Toshakhana case: Islamabad court issues non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran Khan for persistent no-shows

Published February 28, 2023
PTI chief Imran Khan makes his way into the court in Islamabad’s judicial complex on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI chief Imran Khan makes his way into the court in Islamabad’s judicial complex on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI workers accompany party chief as his vehicles arrives at Islamabad’s judicial complex on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI workers accompany party chief as his vehicles arrives at Islamabad’s judicial complex on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI workers accompany party chief as his vehicles arrives at Islamabad’s judicial complex on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI workers accompany party chief as his vehicles arrives at Islamabad’s judicial complex on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

An Islamabad sessions court hearing the Toshakhana case against PTI chief Imran Khan issued on Tuesday non-bailable arrest warrants for him over persistent absences.

Just hours before, he secured bail in two other cases — pertaining to prohibited funding and terrorism — as he appeared before as many courts at Islamabad’s judicial complex accompanied by a large number of party workers.

The PTI chief was required to appear in person in four different cases in courts in Islamabad today:

  • Prohibited funding — banking court located at judicial complex
  • Terrorism — anti-terrorism court at the same judicial complex
  • Toshakhana — in sessions court in F-8 Kachehri
  • Attempted murder case at the same sessions court

The F-8 Kachehri is about a half-hour drive away from the judicial complex.

Imran was set to be indicted in the Toshakhana case today, but his lawyer requested the court that he be exempted from the hearing today because he had to appear in several other courts. His indictment was deferred twice before.

Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal adjourned the hearing to March 7.

Soon after this setback, Imran reached the Islamabad High Court, which granted him pre-arrest bail until March 9 in the attempted murder case.

The security was elaborate outside the court, with Rangers personnel and police making patrols. Police also reportedly stopped the entry of media personnel inside the court premises.

A single-judge bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq also ordered Imran to submit a surety bond of Rs100,000.

PML-N’s Mohsin Ranjha lodged a complaint alleging that the shot fired by a KP policeman outside the ECP on Constitution Avenue on Oct 21 was “an attempt on his life” allegedly at the behest of Imran.

The disqualification of Imran in the Toshakhana case had sparked protests in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, especially at Faizabad, resulting in the arrest of three people — a PTI lawmaker and his two police guards.

Toshakhana case

Judge Iqbal presided over the hearing of the Toshakhana case at the F-8 Kacheri.

During the hearing, a member of the PTI’s legal team on Tuesday sought an exemption of Imran from an in-person appearance in the reference wherein his indictment is expected today.

PTI counsel Ali Bukhari said his client had left for Islamabad for his appearance in two courts in the judicial complex. “He will not be able to appear in this court today,” the lawyer said.

He requested the court to adjourn the hearing for five days.

However, the ECP’s counsel opposed the request, saying the PTI chief did not want to appear before the court. “It is not the court’s concern how far the party head is travelling from to reach the court.”

He pointed out that Imran could also appear before this court if he was coming to the judicial complex.

The PTI lawyer said his client could come to the court when he was free of the other two cases within the judicial operational timings.

“He should also come here as indictment is pending. Once indicted, he can head to the other courts,” the judge responded.

The lawyer said: “Khawaja Haris is representing Imran in this particular case and he cannot come here today.”

The judge then called a recess in the hearing. When it resumed, the judge issued non-bailable arrest warrants and adjourned the hearing to March 7.

The Toshakhana case was last of the four hearings Imran had to appear in today, following which he embarked on a journey back to his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.

Terror case

Earlier in the day, Imran, who travelled from Lahore where he had been recuperating from a gunshot injury, first arrived at Islamabad’s judicial complex, which houses the banking court as well as the ATC.

ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas approved Imran’s interim bail until March 9 in a case about violent protests outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The terrorism case was filed against Imran in Oct 2022 at Islamabad’s Sangjani Police Station 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.

Separately, the FIA had in October 2022 booked Imran and other PTI leaders in connection with their party allegedly receiving prohibited funding. The case was filed by the state through FIA’s Corporate Banking Circle in Islamabad. In September 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.

Earlier, TV footage showed that the party workers forced their way into the complex and encircled Imran’s vehicle.

Prohibited funding

When the hearing of the prohibited funding case began, the prosecutor objected to the PTI chief’s absence and asked the court if similar concessions were given to general citizens as well.

Barrister Salman Safdar was representing Imran in the court, while and Rizwan Abbasi was the special prosecutor.

Safdar contended that arguments must be held in the presence of all parties as directed by the court earlier.

He said it was alleged that the PTI chief had been presenting a false report issued by his own hospital regarding his health. “He is a 71-year-old man and he is recuperating from his injuries gradually.”

The prosecution did not even ask for a delay in the arrest of the ex-PM on humanitarian grounds, Imran’s counsel objected.

The lawyer said his client was appearing before all courts as he had no issue [with appearing before courts] at all.

He argued that the case against Imran was filed on the basis of assumptions.

“Arif Masood Naqvi is the accused, but the FIA is unaware of him.” He pointed out that Naqvi had neither been arrested nor grilled in the case.

The prosecutor also opposed the defendant’s request for the confirmation of Imran’s bail. He said the PTI chief’s medical reports revealed he had swelling but no injuries.

Later, Judge Rakhshinda Shaheen confirmed bail to the PTI chief in the case.

Murder attempt charges

Likewise, PML-N MNA Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha had lodged a complaint alleging that the shot fired by the KP policeman outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Constitution Avenue on Oct 21, 2022, was “an attempt on his life” allegedly at the behest of Imran.

The disqualification of Imran in the Toshakhana case had sparked protests in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, especially at Faizabad, resulting in the arrest of three people — a PTI lawmaker and his two police guards.

The clash between the protesters and police had started outside the Election Commission of Pakistan soon after the verdict disqualifying Imran Khan when the KP police guard of MNA Saleh Mohammad fired a gunshot.

Violence at Islamabad Judicial Complex

Meanwhile, the Islamabad police arrested 25 people for vandalism at the judicial complex upon Imran’s arrival there earlier today.

In a tweet, the police confirmed the arrests and the registration of a first information report (FIR) under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The police registered two FIRs for vandalism at the judicial complex and IHC, naming Imran and various other PTI leaders in the cases.

The police said the judicial complex and the IHC were attacked as “part of a plan”, adding that raids were being conducted for further arrests.

“Teams have been deployed in different provinces to conduct arrests,” the police said. “A political party’s representatives were leading the crowd who provoked the people to cause harm”.

The police said government property was damaged at the judicial complex, adding that it was able to stop any such act at the IHC.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah alleged “Imran’s crew” attacked the judicial complex, insulted the judiciary and indulged in vandalism due to which a case was registered.

During a press conference in Sahiwal, the security czar said the culprits will be arrested with the help of CCTV footage.

He added that the entire nation was wondering why Imran was receiving “special treatment”.

“They attacked the complex, broke the gate, and entered,” he said. “CCTV cameras were broken and the judicial complex was insulted as an institution”.

Sanaullah vowed to arrest every person involved in the incident and said every action will be taken within the ambit of the law.

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