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ISLAMABAD: The senior leadership of the ruling PTI is planning to move an application seeking acquittal in three cases registered against them under terrorism charges for ‘inciting’ violence during the 2014 sit-in in Islamabad.

Ali Bukhari, the counsel for the PTI leaders including President-elect Dr Arif Alvi, told Dawn that the previous government had registered baseless cases against the party leadership and he was going to file an application seeking their acquittal.

The capital police booked Dr Alvi, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood and Raja Khurram Nawaz on the charge of inciting violence during the sit-in. The cases were registered against them under various sections of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The ATC will resume proceedings on Sept 11.

Previous govt registered ‘baseless’ cases against Imran Khan, Dr Arif Alvi and other PTI leaders, lawyer says

Mr Bukhari said he would file the application under section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) seeking acquittal.

Dr Alvi can avail constitutional immunity to avoid the trial proceeding. His counsel, Ali Bukhari, is also of the view that being the president it was not possible for his client to appear before the court on each and every date of proceeding.

According to Article 248(2) of the Constitution, “No criminal proceeding whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during term of office.”

But about seeking immunity, the president-elect tweeted on Thursday: “Aw Come on. I don’t intend to. The accused in this case are also my PM @ImranKhanPTI and Ministers @Shafqat_Mahmood @Asad Umar and @SMQureshiPTI. How can I seek immunity? Will consult my lawyers.”

His lawyer was of the opinion that the president should not appear before the court in criminal proceedings.

Another PTI lawyer, Faisal Hussain Chaudhry, said Dr Alvi was a respected and honest person and would get better advice when he would consult his lawyers.

Mr Chaudhry said: “In my opinion constitutional immunity is given to offices not to individuals in order to ensure dignity and prestige attached with the most esteemed offices of the state.”

Mr Chaudhry is also representing PTI workers who were booked in the cases.

As per the prosecution, the sit-in protest was not peaceful and the PTI leaders had approached the court for bail after a period of three years. The prosecution admitted that the police should have arrested them earlier, adding the suspects were educated people but had violated the Constitution and incited people to topple the government.

Three people were killed, 26 others injured while 60 were arrested, the prosecution said, adding it had submitted to the court 65 photos, sticks, cutters etc., to establish its case.

On August 31, 2014, the PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers marched towards the Parliament House and Prime Minister House and clashed with the police at the Constitution Avenue.

On Sept 1, 2014, around 50 protesters, allegedly from the PTI and PAT, attacked and injured SSP Asmatullah Junejo. Initially, the police arrested six people who were allegedly involved in the attack.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018