Imran granted bail in nine cases, arrest warrant suspended

News Desk
Saturday, Mar 18, 2023

Ag Agencies

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Friday secured protective bail in nine cases after he appeared in person before the Lahore High Court, while the Islamabad High Court stopped the capital’s police from arresting him in Toshakhana case following his assurance to appear before trial court today (Saturday).

The warrant relates to his non-appearance in a sessions court in Islamabad to answer a case brought by the Election Commission of Pakistan accusing him of not declaring gifts received during his time as premier, or the profit made from selling them.

Attempts by police this week to arrest the PTI chief in Lahore led to pitched battles with supporters outside his Zaman Park home. After a day of legal wrangling in courts in both cities Friday, the arrest warrant was suspended. “The Islamabad High Court has suspended non-bailable arrest warrant,” said Faisal Chaudhry, a senior member of Khan’s legal team. “Now Imran will appear in the court tomorrow,” he told AFP.

While a two-member Lahore High Court (LHC) bench comprising Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Justice Farooq Haider approved the PTI chief’s protective bail in one civil and eight terrorism cases— five of the cases are registered in Islamabad and four in Lahore.

For the five cases in Islamabad, the court granted bail to the ex-premier till March 24, and for the three cases in Lahore, Khan received bail for 10 days (March 27). Justice Sheikh also heard the bail plea that Khan filed against the civil case registered against him, in which the court approved the PTI chief’s protective bail till March 27.

The LHC also granted police access to Zaman Park for investigating the incidents that transpired on March 14 and March 15 — when clashes between PTI workers and riot police left dozens injured. The court also wrapped up senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry’s plea against the operation at Zaman Park and ordered the party to ensure it cooperates with the authorities.

Hundreds of PTI supporters accompanied Khan when he visited the high court, while authorities had also allowed his bulletproof vehicle to enter the court premises.

At Khan’s Zaman Park residence — which became a battleground recently — workers shielded the party chairman’s home to thwart his possible arrest. Later, the situation was calm as the IHC restricted police from arresting him in Toshakhana case.

Khan’s counsel told the court his client does not have the details of all the cases. In response, Justice Sheikh said the LHC cannot give Khan blanket bail and it will only consider those cases against which the pleas have been filed. Khan intervened and said he was confused as numerous cases have been filed against him. “When I get bail in one case, another is there waiting for me.” He added an “unprecedented” attack was launched on his house.

Justice Saleem told Khan he should have cooperated with the system and asked the PTI chief to review his actions. Khan said he wanted the case filed in the trial court against him to be shifted to another court as it was a “death trap”. He said he asked authorities for providing him with adequate security. At that, Justice Saleem said: “Khan Sahab, the case has been mishandled at your end.”

The PTI chief then lamented that “94 cases” have been filed against him and if six more were to be lodged, then they would hit 100. “This will be a non-cricket century.” The court then granted bail to Khan in cases filed in Islamabad till March 24 and in the cases filed in Lahore, he received bail till March 27.

The federal government’s lawyer told the court he does not have details of the cases lodged against Khan in other provinces. “For this, the court will have to issue notices.” Then Punjab government’s lawyer sought time for providing the complete records of the cases lodged against Khan.

After the arguments, the high court sought the records of all the cases registered and restricted authorities from taking disciplinary action against Khan till Tuesday next week.

The Punjab Police had also filed a plea in the high court for allowing the law enforcers to investigate the events that transpired on March 14 and 15 — when the authorities and PTI went face-to-face.

At the hearing, the PTI chief’s lawyer told the court that the police can come and investigate, but SSP Zaman Park should not visit the place with a huge force. Justice Sheikh asked the lawyer whether he could control the investigation. After that, Khan’s counsel said the investigation officer may come to Zaman Park and investigate. The high court then allowed the investigation officer to visit Zaman Park and probe in line with the law.

In the case’s hearing, Justice Sheikh said the court issued the summons in line with the law and a perception is being created that the state’s writ is being ignored. “Such problems should not arise again,” the judge said.

In response, Khan told the judge his party’s name includes “Insaf (justice)” and added he was aware of March 18, but the police came prior to that date. “Their force came in such huge numbers; there is no precedence to the attack that occurred at my house,” the former prime minister said, claiming he was sure that the police did not come to take him to Islamabad, but Balochistan. Khan’s lawyer asked the judge about the status of a case that has been filed against Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah. At that, Justice Sheikh said when the case is presented before him, he will let him know. The judge then wrapped up PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry’s plea against the police operation at Zaman Park and told the PTI to cooperate with the authorities.

Meanwhile, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq while hearing the appeal against the verdict of the Additional Sessions Court for restoring the non-bailable arrest warrants of Imran Khan, directed the authorities to ensure foolproof security measures in the trial court on Saturday.

The Registrar Office had raised some objections to the appeal filed earlier in the case. However, the court took up the case for a hearing. At the outset of the proceedings, the chief justice observed there were some objections raised by the Registrar on the application. Imran Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Haris said the biometric objection had been removed.

The chief justice observed Khan’s undertaking regarding his appearance before the trial court was as worthy as his statement and that contempt of court proceedings could be initiated against him if it were violated. He said the IHC did not decide on the matter previously and sent it to the trial court with the directive to take a decision after going through the undertaking. He asked on which grounds the trial court had rejected the undertaking. Haris replied the trial court, in its order, had stated that the non-bailable warrants could not be cancelled due to the situation in Lahore.

He said the incident that happened in Lahore was unfortunate and a case in that regard had already been registered. “We had requested the trial court to cancel or suspend the arrest warrants against Imran Khan.” The court asked whether the undertaking still existed.

Haris said Khan wanted to appear in the trial court tomorrow (Saturday), adding that his client had been appearing in the courts before. He said another application had also been filed for Khan’s security.

The chief justice remarked all were equal before the law, adding he was told on the administrative side that security arrangements were being made and the trial court judge had also given an order in this regard. Khan’s Lawyer said the petitioner was injured and there was a threat to his life during his appearance. The court observed it was expected that the sessions court would properly observe the security matter as well. Haris said Khan had also sought protective bail in other cases registered against him. Khan’s lawyers also assured the court his client would appear before the court tomorrow (Saturday) and requested that the arrest warrant may be suspended. He said they had submitted the original affidavit to the trial court and filing its copy with the IHC. After hearing the arguments, the court stopped the police from arresting the PTI chief and also directed Khan to appear before the court during court hours. The court served notices to the respondent and adjourned the case till March 21.