Hours after an Islamabad anti-terrorism court rejected PTI chief Imran Khan’s interim bail in a case pertaining to a protest outside the Election Commission (ECP), the ex-premier approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking protective bail.
Earlier today, an Islamabad ATC had rejected Imran’s request for an extension in his interim bail. The plea was made in a case pertaining to a protest outside the ECP following its decision in the Toshakhana case against the PTI chairman.
The verdict was announced by Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan on the grounds of non-appearance in court.
- Islamabad ATC rejects Imran’s request to extend pre-arrest bail in ECP protest case for failing to attend hearing
- Judge Hassan says the matter cannot be stretched for an “indefinite period”
- ATC earlier summoned him to appear in court in person
- Lawyer Babar Awan says Imran “tried to come but could not”
- Islamabad banking court summons Imran in person in prohibited funding case
- IHC stops banking court from taking further action till Feb 22
- Banking court adjourns hearing to Feb 18
- Imran approaches LHC for protective bail, hearing adjourned till tomorrow
Subsequently, Imran petitioned the LHC for a protective bail. The petition was submitted by Imran’s counsels Advocates Malik Ghulam Abbas Nissoana, Muhammad Farooq Khokhar, Rashid Gill, Muhammad Aadil Khan and Ch Asghar Ali.
In the petition, Imran said that the Islamabad court did not grant him an exemption from appearance on the basis of medical grounds, and rejected his request for an extension in his interim bail.
“I have to submit a bail petition again in the Islamabad ATC,” he stated in the petition and prayed to the Lahore High Court to “approve the protective bail for the surrender to take place in the concerned court.”
A one-judge bench headed by Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh heard the case.
During the hearing, Imran’s lawyer told the court that “it is difficult [for Imran] to walk around according to his medical report,” he said, insisting that “Imran Khan wanted to appear before the court.”
The lawyer requested the court to approve his client’s protective bail on medical grounds. “The medical report states that Imran cannot walk for at least three weeks.”
The judge said that the “law is equal for everyone” and that it was imperative for the suspect to be present in court.
“In principal, I should dismiss this petition but I am making a concession,” he said. Justice Sheikh urged the petitioner’s counsel to bring Imran in court by 8pm, following which the hearing was adjourned.
Once the hearing resumed, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry appeared before the court and said that the court had advised the ex-premier to rest. He further said that there were concerns regarding Imran’s security.
However, Justice Sheikh said he could not hear Fawad’s arguments as he was “not in uniform”. The judge again stated that it was mandatory for the suspect to be present while seeking protective bail.
At this, Imran’s counsel said that he could present his client through video link. However, Justice Sheikh said that the “proper procedure should be followed”.
“If you give me a guarantee that the petitioner will be present in court, I will adjourn the hearing till the morning,” he said.
“Bring him on a stretcher or in an ambulance. Bail will not be granted without him being present in court,” the judge added.
When the hearing resumed after a short break, Justice Sheikh again asked about Imran’s whereabouts.
Imran’s counsel told the court that the doctor had advised him to avoid walking at the moment. However, the judge said, “Who has told Imran Khan to walk?”
When the lawyer told the judge that there were also security concerns, Justice Sheikh said that he could arrange security.
The lawyer pleaded the court to treat the case as a “mercy petition”. Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till 8:15am tomorrow (February 15).
Islamabad ATC rejects Imran’s bail hearing
In a short order released today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the Islamabad ATC said: “It has transpired from the available record that multifarious opportunities have been provided to the present applicant [Imran] to put up appearance before the court but to no avail.”
It recalled that the PTI chief’s instant pre-arrest bail was preferred on Oct 24, however, he failed to appear before the court on Oct 31, Nov 21, Nov 28, Dec 9, Dec 19, Jan 10, Jan 31, Feb 10 and twice today.
“Due to the protracted nature of the instant bail application, the matter can not be stretched for an indefinite period, thus no further opportunity seeking dispensation from personal attendance shall be allowed,” the court said.
“Ergo, the instant application seeking dispensation from personal attendance in medical grounds for today is accordingly dismissed.”
The order further said that it is “sine qua non” (absolutely necessary) for the petitioner to put up an appearance before the court on the date when the matter was fixed for the final order.
“Therefore, instant pre-arrest bail petition is dismissed due to non-appearance of petitioner Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi,” it added.
The terrorism case was filed against Imran in Oct 2022 after PTI workers took to the streets and held demonstrations outside ECP offices across the country, after it disqualified the former prime minister in the Toshakhana reference.
Soon after the verdict was announced, the PTI leadership asked people to take to the streets. Clashes were also reported between the police and protesters in Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi.
Earlier today, the court rejected the ex-premier’s request for exemption from appearance on medical grounds. “Imran Khan should appear in court by 1:30pm,” the ATC judge said in an order announced at 1:20pm.
The PTI chief has been convalescing in his Zaman Park residence in Lahore ever since he was wounded in an assassination attempt during a pitstop his caravan made in Wazirabad while they were marching on Islamabad.
During the hearing, Imran’s lawyer Babar Awan told the court that Imran tried to travel to Islamabad but could not.
Previously, the court had granted the PTI chief the last opportunity to appear on Feb 15.
As the proceeding commenced today, Imran’s lawyer Babar Awan said that he wanted to present some arguments in the case and then proceeded to read out the FIR registered against his client.
“The case against Imran was registered on the violation of Section 144,” he pointed out, arguing that in the view of the ATC, this was not a terrorism case.
“The court has already approved bails of other persons named in the case,” Awan contended. He requested that terrorism charges from the FIR should be removed.
At that, the judge said that the court was currently hearing Imran’s bail plea.
“Is the violation of Section 144 also punishable?” Imran’s lawyer asked here, adding that the additional sessions judge had granted Imran interim bail till Feb 27.
“I request the court to extend my client’s bail till then as well. Imran tried to travel but he couldn’t,” he said.
Awan went on to say that Imran “has never run away from court or the country” and appealed for a last chance. “I am ready to submit surety bonds worth Rs10,000.”
The lawyer then requested the court for time to consult Imran regarding the matter after which the hearing was adjourned.
IHC stops banking court from passing orders on Imran’s bail plea in foreign funding case
Separately, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has stopped a banking court from passing any direction on Imran’s bail plea in the Federal Investigation Agency’s prohibited funding case against the PTI.
The order was passed by a two-member bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangir on a PTI petition challenging the banking court’s dismissal of its request for proceedings via video link.
The IHC instructed Imran to submit fresh medical reports and stopped the banking court from taking further action in the case till Feb 22.
Last year, the ECP had issued its verdict in the prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case — against the PTI, which stated that the party did indeed receive prohibited funding.
In the verdict, the commission noted that the party “knowingly and willfully” received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi. The party was a “willing recipient” of prohibited money of $2,121,500, it said.
The ECP said that the party “knowingly and willfully” also received donations from Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based company), E-Planet Trustees (a Cayman Islands private registered company), SS Marketing Manchester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were “hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws”.
Subsequently, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had registered a case naming Imran, Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan, Saifullah Khan Nyazee, Syed Yunus Ali Raza, Aamer Mehmood Kiani, Tariq Rahim Sheikh, Tariq Shafi, Faisal Maqbool Shaikh, Hamid Zaman and Manzoor Ahmad Chaudhary as signatories/beneficiaries of the PTI account in question.
At the previous hearing, the banking court had rejected the former premier’s request for a virtual hearing and instructed him to appear in person on Feb 15. Imran had then approached the Islamabad High Court with a request for virtual proceedings.
During the hearing today, the court once again rejected Imran’s exemption request and instructed him to appear before the judge in person today.
“Imran Khan should appear in the court before 3:30pm today,” Special Judge Banking Court Rakhshanda Shaheen said. “If he fails to do so, the law will take its course,” she added.
At the outset of the proceedings, Imran’s lawyer Barrister Salman Safdar submitted a request in court seeking an exemption from an in-person hearing. He said that a similar petition had been filed in the IHC as well.
“I have medical evidence to back my request,” he said. “If you [the court] accept my request, I won’t go to the high court.”
At that, the judge observed that the PTI had appealed the banking court’s order. “You have challenged my order … you should definitely go to the high court,” Judge Shaheeb said.
Subsequently, Safdar began presenting his arguments in the case.
“I will put forward a brief request. I don’t want to step into the high court against you. I want you to listen to us here with an open mind,” he said.
He stated that Imran Khan was more than 70 years old. “He is fit because of regular exercise but he is above 70 years.
“Even if a youngster is shot, it takes them more than three months for recovery … Imran has even been exempted from biometric verification because of his age,” the lawyer argued and requested the court to grant his client a three-week exemption from an in-person appearance.
Safdar also submitted the PTI chief’s x-rays in court.
“Now that we all are becoming doctors, you can check these reports. We are just asking for three weeks so that Imran can stand without support.”
He added that if the court was not willing to listen to his request, then it had to write that Imran’s medical reports were incorrect. “It should also be written that Imran was not shot.”
Here, the judge asked if the IHC had issued any orders pertaining to the request yet to which FIA special prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi said that no such order had been released.
“In fact, an objection was raised on their petition,” he said.
The prosecutor, while presenting his arguments, contended why Imran had never visited a government hospital.
“Imran Khan does not have any serious problems. It is just a minor sprain and inflammation in his leg,” he said, adding that an exemption from an in-person hearing could not be granted on these grounds.
Meanwhile, co-accused Tariq Shafi’s counsel Mian Ali Ashfaq contended that the PTI was a name of a party and not of an individual. “The law will be applied wherever needed.”
He said his client was neither a party nor a clerk or officer, hence “no case can be made against him.”
The counsel said Shafi could not be charged even if the case was admitted for further pursuance.
He told the court that the PTI received funds in bank accounts in different cities. The lawyer said the allegation that Arif Naqvi transferred the money acquired through illegal means. “This is a baseless accusation.”
He explained that different people drop cents in donation boxes at mosques. “Those donating money should be asked about the sources of money and not the mosque,” he argued.
According to him, no NGO asks donators about the sources of income.
He questioned if Naqvi was charged abroad “then what are we doing here?”
He blamed the FIA for concealing facts before the court. He sought clarity from the prosecution if they wanted to frame a person in a case for which he had already served his sentence abroad.
Judge Shaheen interrupted the counsel, saying his arguments were irrelevant as the case pertained to bail.
The judge also directed the counsel to complete his arguments so other lawyers could also be heard.
The court later adjourned the hearing till Feb 18, following the IHC’s orders.