IHC extends stay on Imran’s jail trial by a day

ISLAMABAD, (MANEND NEWS): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) extended for one more day the stay order on the jail trial of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the cipher case and sought information from the

Registrar as to who initiated the process of appointing the judge of the special court.

During the hearing of an intra-court appeal by a division bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb and Justice Suman Rifat Imtiaz, the lawyer for the PTI chief requested the court to annul the proceedings in the case before the cabinet decision of the jail trial.

Salman Akram Raja, the lawyer for the PTI chairman, pointed out that there were hundreds of judges in the subordinate judiciary in Islamabad, but government chose one particular judge for the special court established under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

However, the court said that the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) Usman Awan had placed some documents before it, which said that the process of appointing the judge started from the IHC. He added that judiciary had jurisdiction over jail trial, and the Executive had to make arrangements for it.

Raja argued that if there was a request for a jail trial, the court could take notice and decide after hearing the other side. He said that legal requirements were not fulfilled in issuing the notification for the jail trial.

He argued that the jail trial was aimed at keeping the Imran’s family, media, and the public away from the proceedings, adding that charging the accused without providing documents was not just unethical but it could also not be called a minor irregularity. He pleaded for annulling the prior proceedings.

AGP Awan said that the trial of cipher case started with the indictment of the accused on October 23, therefore, all the previous court proceedings were the pre-trial proceedings. To a court query, the AGP said that threats to Imran security was in the public domain and the court was also aware of it.

The court said it wanted to restrict itself to the legal points on the issue of trial and appointment of judge. It added that the judge concerned had the authority to exclude the public from the proceedings.

According to the AGP, since there is no such order, therefore, it should be considered as an open trial.
The court instructed the Registrar to clarify whether the initial letter for the OSA court appointment originated from the high court or if the law ministry initiated the judge appointment process. Additionally, the court sought information on whether the IHC was informed before the judge’s trial in jail.

The PTI chief is currently lodged in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on judicial remand, facing the cipher case and the £190 million scandal case. He was arrested in August following his conviction in the Toshakhana gifts case. The IHC had already suspended his sentencing.

Imran had later moved another petition in the IHC seeking suspension of his conviction by an Islamabad court. During a hearing on Monday, an IHC bench led by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and including

Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, issued notices to the relevant parties and sought their replies.
Advocate Amjad Pervez, the lawyer for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), received the notice in the court. The court directed the PTI chairman’s lawyer, Shoaib Shaheen, to provide copy of the relevant matter to the ECP lawyer. Further hearing of the case would be held next week.

In the £190 million case, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) continued interrogation of the PTI chairman. Jail sources said that a NAB team reached Adiala Jail in the afternoon to investigate Imran, which remained inside for four hours.

However, the sources added, before the departure of the team, a second NAB team reached the jail premises and grilled Imran for more than two and a half hours. The second team left the jail premises after the dusk time.

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