PTI chief Imran Khan was granted interim pre-arrest bail in two cases registered against him in connection with a PTI rally held in Islamabad on August 20.
The former prime minister has been booked in a terrorism case for his controversial remarks about a female judge at the rally while a separate first information report (FIR) has been registered against him on charges of violating Section 144 (ban on public gatherings exceeding four persons) in the capital on the day of the rally.
Imran’s bail plea in the case pertaining to his remarks about the judge was heard at an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in the capital today, with Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan granting him interim bail till September 1 against a surety of Rs100,000.
Later, additional sessions judge Tahir Abbas Supra granted him interim bail till September 7 in the case pertaining to the alleged violation of Section 144. This relief was provided against a surety of Rs5,000.
Terrorism case hearing
Imran’s plea for bail in the terrorism case was filed in an ATC at the Federal Judicial Complex in Islamabad today, prior to his arrival at the court.
The plea stated that the case was registered against the PTI chief by police as an “act of revenge”.
Security was tightened around the Federal Judicial Complex ahead of Imran’s arrival, with police and Frontier Corps personnel deployed at the site, the Dawn.com correspondent in the capital said. Roads in the complex’s surroundings have also been blocked.
The PTI, meanwhile, called on supporters to “come out on the streets and then head to Islamabad the next day” if Imran is taken into custody. “Clear directions from the party given!”
It also added a hashtag in Urdu, which says “Imran Khan is our red line”.
The hearing began with Imran’s counsel, Babar Awan presenting his arguments.
Awan contended that none of the three individuals who Imran was accused of threatening at the Islamabad rally was a petitioner in the case.
Instead, Magistrate Ali Javed was the petitioner, he added.
Awan said a mere statement saying “have some shame” was being presumed as a threat.
The lawyer recalled that at the Islamabad rally, Imran had said the Islamabad inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police would not be spared. The PTI chief had further warned additional district and sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry of taking action against her, he added.
“We took action and approached the high court,” Awan said.
The judge then asked whether a representative of the state was present at the hearing.
At that, Awan replied in the negative and informed the court that notices to them would be issued today.
“If there is no one from the prosecution, don’t present your arguments,” the judge told Awan.
During the hearing, Awan also brought it to the court’s attention that another case, allegedly for violating Section 144, was registered against Imran.
PTI leader Asad Umar had also been booked in this case even when he was in Lahore on August 20, he said.
Eventually, the court granted interim bail to Imran till September 1 against a surety of Rs100,000.
Awan, however, requested the court to extend the duration of bail, but the request was turned.
“I cannot grant bail for a longer period and will only grant it for a week. I am granting bail till September 1 and issuing a notice to police,” the judge said.
He also issued notices to the petitioner and prosecutor, seeking their replies, and adjourned the hearing.
Section 144 hearing
Later, Imran appeared before additional sessions judge Supra, who granted him interim bail in the case registered against him on charges of violating Section 144.
The bail was granted till September 7 against a surety of Rs5,000, after Imran’s lawyer, Sardar Masroof Khan, contended that the sections included in the FIR constituted bailable offences.
The judge also summoned police on September 7, directing them to submit the case record at the next hearing.
He also granted interim bail to PTI’s Asad Umar in the case against a surety of Rs5,000.
‘Those making decisions must think about the country’
Speaking to reporters after the hearing at the ATC, Imran said Pakistan had become a “laughing stock” in the world.
“Our party member Shahbaz Gill was subjected to torture and sexual abuse, and in response, I said I would take legal action against police officers concerned and a magistrate who sent him back to police on a remand despite the torture being proven. But, ironically, a terror case was filed against me,” he lamented.
He said the case was being reported across the world, with Pakistan being portrayed as a “banana republic”.
Without naming anyone, the PTI chief said: “Whoever is taking such decisions should think about the country. They are afraid of the PTI’s power and the victories of the party in by-elections.”
The former premier added that the country was being “mocked just because [some people] want to protect their own selves and for a technical knockout.”
The Islamabad rally
At the Islamabad rally on August 20, Imran had warned the judiciary against its “biased” attitude towards his party, saying that it should brace itself for the consequences.
The former prime minister had also warned additional district and sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved the two-day physical remand of his aide Shahbaz Gill’s on the request of the capital police in a sedition case, that she, too, would face dire consequences.
Moreover, the PTI chief had threatened to file cases against Islamabad’s inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police, saying, “We won’t spare you.”
Subsequently, Imran was booked under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (punishment for acts of terrorism) on Sunday for “threatening” a female judge and senior police officers.
On Monday, the Islamabad High Court granted him protective bail for three days with the direction to seek bail from the sessions court before the expiry of the three-day period.
A day later, Islamabad police registered another case against the former prime and other top leaders of the PTI for allegedly violating of Section 144 while holding a rally in the capital on August 20.