LHC extends Imran’s protective bail in five cases till 27th

News Desk
Saturday, Mar 25, 2023

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday secured a three-day extension in protective bail till March 27 in five cases registered against him in the federal capital after he personally appeared before the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The former prime minister arrived at the LHC in tight security as a two-member special bench, comprising Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Justice Anwaar Hussain heard the plea regarding an extension in the protective bail.

Last week, Khan secured protective bail in eight terrorism cases and one civil case — a total of nine — after he appeared before the court in person. For the five cases in Islamabad, the court granted bail to Khan till March 24 and for the three cases in Lahore, he received bail for 10 days (March 27).

The verdict was announced on Friday minutes after Khan’s counsel submitted an affidavit that a bail petition had been submitted in Islamabad.Following the court’s order, the PTI chief’s counsel submitted the affidavit stating that his client’s bail pleas had been submitted in the Islamabad courts.

After the submission, the court asked the prosecutor whether he wanted to say something. The prosecutor said he did not have anything to add.Justice Sheikh said the court was extending the relief granted to the petitioner as his cases were pending in Islamabad courts. “If you [Khan] do not get bail there, then you will face the consequences of submitting a fake affidavit.”

He also warned the PTI chief’s counsel that submitting a fake affidavit was tantamount to contempt of court.Earlier in the day, the LHC Registrar’s Office had attached objections to the plea as the PTI chief had already obtained bail in the cases.

As the hearing began, Khan’s counsel told the judges that the former premier was seeking protective bail in order to go to the federal capital where several “political” cases had been registered against him. At this, Justice Sheikh said no such precedence can be pointed out when protective bail was extended. Khan’s lawyer argued that the legal team was also struggling to understand how to secure bail as so many cases had been registered against the deposed prime minister.

Justice Sheikh said it would have been better if this petition would have been filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).Arguing for himself, Khan said the last time when he went to Islamabad, all roads were blocked, mentioning that even on this day (Friday) he came in secretly.

“In Islamabad, police used teargas and baton-charged the people due to which we had to return,” the cricketer-turned-politician said, claiming that he “ran from there” in order to save his life.

Khan’s counsel told the court that they were only seeking a working day so that they can reach Islamabad; however, the government’s lawyer raised an objection to this.After hearing the arguments, the two-member bench directed the office to fix Khan’s petition, adjourning the hearing till then.

Once the hearing resumed following the court’s direction to fix the petition, Khan’s counsel acknowledged that they knew this plea was “extraordinary” as they were seeking an extension in the protective bail.

“We have a strong ground,” the lawyers said, at which Justice Sheikh directed them to narrate the incidents that took place since the last hearing on March 17 when he was granted protective bail.

The counsel started narrating the incidents by apprising the court that they went to Islamabad on March 18 to file a bail petition, adding they were not allowed to enter the federal capital.At this, the two-member bench asked the government’s lawyer to confirm whether bail petitions were filed or not. “We are unaware of this,” the government’s lawyer told the court.

“Were these petitions fixed for hearing?” the judges cross-questioned, at which Khan’s counsel told them that the petitions were currently with the staff of the district and sessions court in Islamabad.

The court said the bail petition cannot be fixed for hearing until the petitioner was himself/herself present in the court. “This is why the case wasn’t heard because Khan was unable to appear before the court,” the lawyer representing the PTI chief said, resuming his narration regarding the timeline of the incidents.

The court asked the PTI chief to submit an affidavit that a bail petition had been submitted in Islamabad court.“We don’t want to set any traditions as the judgement, in this case, will be quoted in the future,” Justice Sheikh said.

Khan’s lawyers assured the court that they would “try to” submit the affidavit by 4:45pm to which the judges adjourned the hearing for a brief time. After resuming the hearing, the court immediately announced its verdict granting an extension in the protective bail.

Separately, an Islamabad district and sessions court converted on Friday Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrant into a bailable warrant in the case of threatening a woman judge, Geo News reported.

Earlier, the court had reserved its verdict on a request to extend the arrest warrant suspension of the PTI chief.Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi appeared in the court of additional sessions judge Faizan Haider Gilani who remarked Khan be bound to appear in court at a future date.

At the outset of the hearing, the judge said if PTI’s lawyers reach by 10:30am, the case would be heard then, including the arguments of all parties. He then adjourned the hearing till 10:30am.

After Khan’s lawyer Gohar Ali reached the court, the hearing resumed.Lawyer Ali requested the court to hear his client’s case on March 30, saying the PTI chief would be appearing in court on March 30 in the Toshakhana case. He said he would file an application in a civil court to change the date on the arrest warrant from March 29 to March 30.

Addressing the lawyer, judge Gilani responded: “It’s strange that you are requesting for March 30, while the date for the arrest warrant is March 29”.

The prosecutor commented that arguments should be given on the merits of the application for the suspension of the arrest warrant.The lawyer again sought extension of Khan’s arrest warrant suspension till March 30.The judge said the court can issue any verdict on March 29.

At this, lawyer Ali reiterated that the warrants related to the Toshakhana case were suspended till March 30.The judge then asked whether Khan had ever appeared before the court in the case against him for threatening a woman judge.

At this, the prosecutor said the former premier had never appeared before the court in this case, adding a copy of the case was yet to be given to the accused. Lawyer Gohar Ali did not have a power of attorney in the woman judge threatening case, the prosecutor said.

The court reserved its decision on the request of Khan’s legal team.After a break, the court decided to convert Khan’s non-bailable warrant into a bailable warrant, and disposed of PTI’s warrant suspension plea.