ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan arrived in Islamabad accompanied by a large number of supporters and managed to secure bail in three cases, but his decision to skip the sessions court proceedings prompted the judge to issue non-bailable warrants for his arrest in the Toshakhana case.
Mr Khan, who is recuperating from his leg wound, spent a busy day in the federal capital as he had to appear in three different courts to attend the hearing of his bail applications.
Clad in white clothes and a black waistcoat, Imran Khan arrived at the judicial complex after 1pm in his black SUV alongside PTI leaders Murad Saeed, Amir Mehmood Kayani, Ali Nawaz Awan, and others — some of them were seen sitting on the hood of the vehicle.
Despite security deployed within and outside the Federal Judicial Complex that houses the ATC, banking court, and other special courts, dozens of pro-PTI lawyers and some party workers managed to enter the courtroom.
They chanted slogans inside the courtroom and celebrated the decision of the Special Judge on Offences in Banks Rakhshanda Shaheen after she granted pre-arrest bail to the former prime minister in the prohibited funding case.
Judge issues non-bailable warrants after PTI chairman skips Toshakhana hearing
The PTI chairman appeared before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in connection with a case pertaining to violence outside the ECP. In the prohibited funding case, he appeared in a banking court whereas in the case regarding the attack on Mr Ranjha, he went to the IHC. Since he skipped the Toshakhana hearing, an additional district and sessions judge issued non-bailable arrest warrants.
During the course of arguments, Barrister Salman Safdar, counsel for Mr Khan, termed the prohibited funding a case of political victimisation. He argued that Mr Khan has no issue of ego and he avoided personal appearances before courts for “cogent reasons”. According to the counsel, Mr Khan is an elderly man aged 71 years and his bullet wounds needed a comparatively long time to heal.
He pointed out that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was reluctant to investigate the PTI chairman as they did not favorably respond to three letters sent by Mr Khan wherein the latter insisted to join the investigation at his Zaman Park residence or through a video link. He further argued that the PTI chief also offered to hand over his written statements to the investigation agency, but his offers were turned down.
He argued that the same court has already accepted bail petitions of co-accused Tariq Shafi, Faisal Maqbool, and Haider Zaman while requesting the court to confirm the pre-arrest bail.
Special prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi opposed the bail confirmation over his absence from the court. He recollected that following his first appearance before the court when he was granted interim bail, Mr Khan remained absent in two consecutive hearings citing roads closure. Later, he was exempted from appearance due to his injuries in the Wazirabad attack.
The prosecutor claimed that the medical report of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) has disclosed that the wounds of Mr Khan have been healed; hence, there is “no excuse for his absence” from the proceedings. The judge reserved the order for about 30 minutes and announced the verdict in her chamber which was communicated to the lawyers through the court’s staff.
ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan who had dismissed the pre-arrest bail of Mr Khan over a no-show entertained his fresh bail petition after Mr Khan appeared in person before the court. The judge granted him interim bail in the case of violence outside the ECP.
In another development, ADSJ Zafar Iqbal issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for Mr Khan over his persistent absence in the case filed by the ECP against the former prime minister for concealing Toshakhana gifts.
The ECP disqualified Mr Khan in the Toshakhana reference in August last year for “not sharing details” of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale. The commission also filed a complaint in the sessions court for proceeding against Mr Khan under criminal law.
IHC grants bail
After attending the proceedings of the ATC and special court, Mr Khan approached the IHC – situated in Sector G-10 – to seek bail in the case related to manhandling of Mohsin Ranjha by his party workers.
Ahead of his appearance at the high court, the official of the capital police deployed on the court premises tortured journalists as they dragged them out of the high court. The police were acting on the directives of the Shalimar assistant commissioner.
Later, the reporters approached the IHC CJ to complain about police violence. Justice Farooq directed his secretary to summon the inspector general and deputy commissioner and sought their explanation.
During the course of a brief hearing, IHC Chief Justice granted interim bail to Mr Khan against Rs100,000 surety bonds.
Further hearing was adjourned till March 9.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2023