The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday granted PTI chief Imran Khan protective bail till Thursday (August 25) in a terrorism case registered against him for “threatening” a female judge and senior police officers at a public rally.
The ex-prime minister was booked on Sunday under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (punishment for acts of terrorism) regarding his comments at his Islamabad rally on Saturday.
Earlier today, Imran's lawyers Babar Awan and Faisal Chaudhry filed a petition seeking pre-arrest bail on his behalf in the IHC.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Babar Sattar took up the petition and asked about the objections raised by the registrar's office.
Awan informed the judge that an objection pertaining to approaching the relevant forum was raised on the plea. Justice Kayani remarked that an objection pertaining to biometrics was also raised.
During the proceedings, Awan claimed that Imran's Banigala residence had been "surrounded" and that "he cannot even approach the relevant court". He urged the court to grant Imran protective bail so that the relevant forum could be approached.
"If the court wants to use its authority to grant pre-arrest bail, it's your jurisdiction," he added.
Justice Kayani observed that the relevant forum was the anti-terrorism court and ruled out the possibility of the IHC granting Imran pre-arrest bail at this point.
The court then approved Imran's protective bail till Thursday and directed him to approach the relevant court by then.
However, Awan pleaded with the court to extend the bail by one more day. He contended that three days' time was not sufficient.
At that, Justice Kayani said, "I will appoint a special judge and issue an order for approaching the relevant forum within an hour."
PTI facing extreme dictatorship, says Fawad
Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the government was now well aware of the public sentiment if they attempted to take any "illegal step" against Imran Khan.
Talking to media in Islamabad, the former federal minister said that the case against the PTI chief was irrational, hence it should be revoked. He called out the government for imposing curbs on TV channels, which according to him "had never been imposed in the country before".
"We are facing this extreme dictatorship because we have a minority government and attempts are being made to sustain this minority government through force."
He claimed that the government would lose power before Sep 10.
Senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the nation was supporting Imran and "this bond cannot be broken." He said the country would ultimately suffer if any attempt was made "to break this wall of people".
The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated that Imran was a "target of the ruling PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) for his fearless criticism, and extremely bold and blunt stance against corruption and corrupt politicians".
"And to achieve this malicious agenda, acting in a most unfortunate and clumsy manner, a false and frivolous complaint has been registered against him by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police at the behest of the incumbent government," it added.
The plea further alleged that the government had decided to "cross all limits" to arrest Imran "under false accusations" and was "hell-bent to sort out the petitioner and his party at all costs".
The government, in an illegal effort to settle a political score, has decided to "illegally and unlawfully victimise" the petitioner, it said, adding that the government had registered 17 FIRs against Imran.
It further said the most recent FIR against was "politically motivated", in which Imran had been "falsely" involved with "mala fide intention and ulterior motives to humiliate" him.
Moreover, the plea highlighted that the FIR was registered after an "unexplained inordinate delay of 24 hours". "The contents of the FIR reflect that the alleged offence is not made out. The case in hand is of further inquiry".
The plea contended the case was based on "surmises and conjectures" and that no evidence was available on record against Imran in connection with the case.
It also contended that there was no "direct or indirect" evidence available on record against Imran in the case, which created "serious doubt in the prosecution story".
It went on to say that Imran was a respectable citizen and "a sheer apprehension of his imminent arrest would cause humiliation and unjustified harassment".
It stated that there was "no likelihood" of Imran absconding or tampering with prosecution evidence if granted protective bail.
The petitioner has an unblemished track record and has never been implicated in any criminal activity, the plea said, adding that he was ready to join the investigation as and when required.
The petition said that Imran was also ready to furnish a "solvent surety bond" when required.
The state was nominated as the respondent in the plea. However, it is not yet clear if the petition has been accepted for hearing.
The FIR against Imran was registered at Islamabad’s Margalla police station at 10pm on Saturday under the complaint of magistrate Ali Javed.
The FIR said that at the PTI’s rally at F-9 park a day ago, Imran had “terrorised and threatened top police officials and a respected female additional sessions judge” in his address.
The FIR reproduced the PTI chairman’s comments where he spoke about the female judge and the Islamabad police officials.
In his address on Saturday, Imran had threatened to file cases against Islamabad’s inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police and said: “We won’t spare you.”
The former premier had also taken exception to Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved Gill’s two-day physical remand at the request of the capital police, and said she should “prepare herself as action would be taken against her”.
The FIR argued that Imran’s speech was meant to “terrorise” top police officials and the judiciary so they could not perform their functions and abstain from pursuing any action against any PTI-related individual if required to do so.
The magistrate argued that Imran’s speech had spread fear and uncertainty among the police, judges and the nation. “Terrorism has been spread the country’s peace has been harmed,” he added.
The FIR requested that legal action be pursued against Imran and an “exemplary punishment” be meted out.
Imran criticised for his remarks
Prior to the registration of the FIR, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had said the government was holding legal consultations on whether to file a separate case against the PTI chairperson for his “provocative speech” on Saturday or nominate him in a previous case.
“This is all happening in continuation — from a campaign after Lasbela incident when six army officers were martyred followed by Gill’s attempt to incite army ranks to go against their top command and then Imran threatening a woman judge and police officials for performing their duties as per the law,” the minister had said.
The minister had also denied the PTI's allegations that Gill was being subjected to custodial torture.
Earlier, Sanaullah had also tweeted that Imran would have to face the law for “threatening and hurling abuse” at the magistrate and police officers.
The minister had said the PTI chief will not be allowed “to challenge the writ of the state by inciting rebellion”.
Meanwhile, several other leaders from the ruling alliance, including Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and PPP's Farhatullah Babar, also condemned Imran's remarks against the judge and police.