Imran secures protective bail from LHC in 2 terrorism cases

Published March 21, 2023
Police officers escort the vehicle of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, as he appears at the district High Court in Lahore, Pakistan March 21, 2023. — Reuters
Police officers escort the vehicle of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, as he appears at the district High Court in Lahore, Pakistan March 21, 2023. — Reuters

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday granted PTI Chairman Imran Khan protective bail in two terrorism cases registered against him in Islamabad following last week’s clashes at the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC).

The first information reports (FIRs) registered at the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and the Golra police stations in the capital accused the PTI chief and party workers of being involved in attacking police and creating unrest outside the FJC in Islamabad during the hearing of the Toshakhana case on March 18.

A two-judge LHC bench comprising Justice Shehbaz Rizvi and Justice Farooq Haider granted Imran protective bail in the terrorism cases till March 27.

Imran arrived at the LHC at around 1pm today. Dawn.com’s correspondent present in court said the ex-premier’s vehicle entered LHC via the Mosque Gate.

The PTI chairman was accompanied by aide Fawad Chaudhry, his lawyer Barrister Salman Safdar and private security guards.

Imran has renewed claims that his life is in danger, saying that the incumbent rulers wanted to kill him and a “trap” was laid at the Islamabad Judicial Complex on the occasion of the Toshakhana hearing on Saturday. The PTI chief survived an assassination attempt last year and had blamed senior figures in the government and military for it.

‘Courts will only act as per the law’

Immediately after arriving in court, Imran first appeared before Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh as the court took up PTI’s contempt petition against the police operation at his Zaman Park residence on March 18.

As the hearing commenced, Justice Sheikh inquired about the guards present in court along with Imran to which Fawad replied that they were a part of Imran’s “personal security”.

However, the judge instructed the guards to leave the courtroom, saying that police officers were already present for security.

At one point during the hearing, Imran appeared at the rostrum and recalled the events of March 18. He said that his wife was alone at home that day, yet the police broke down the windows of his house.

“I reached the Islamabad Toll Plaza and they attacked my house. My wife is a ba parda [modest] woman… her voice is recorded in the camera,” the PTI chief stated.

“Obstructions were set up in multiple places only so that I could not reach court,” he told the court.

“I secretly reached the court today … I came in a car that no one knows about, without any convoy,” Imran said, adding that by doing all this what message did the government give to the world.

“The only message they have given is that there is no rule of law.”

At that, the court instructed the government lawyer to seek directions regarding the Zaman Park operation and appear in court. “I will initiate contempt proceedings against all those who are sitting in the media and making a joke of the judiciary,” Justice Sheikh said.

He also warned that action would be taken if the respondents in the case did not respect the court. “We have to work as per the law, we only listen to what the law says,” the judge added.

Court directs govt to submit details of cases against Imran

LHC’s Justice Sheikh also heard a separate petition today filed by PTI seeking the records of cases against the former prime minister.

During the hearing, the police presented a report in court which said that six cases had been registered against Imran in Punjab. Three of these FIRs were registered at Lahore’s Race Course police station, while others were filed at Sarwar Road police station, Rawalpindi’s New Airport police station and Faisalabad’s Madina Town police station.

However, Justice Sheikh instructed the police to submit details of cases against Imran registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as well.

The judge also inquired about the dates of the FIRs and if the report included all the latest complaints as well, saying that “FIRs are being lodged every day”.

The police replied that the report included all the FIRs lodged until yesterday.

“What is the issue in providing all the details? Today is the time of [using] WhatsApp … you can find everything within a minute,” the judge remarked and then adjourned the hearing till 1pm.

He also instructed the police to present the complete case record in court.

When the hearing resumed, Justice Sheikh asked the government’s lawyer to submit an affidavit along with the details of the cases registered against Imran.

“Collect the details in two days and also give relief to the petitioner,” the judge stated. “It is not possible that you delay the hearing and not give relief too.”

Imran granted bail in NAB cases

Before departing from the LHC, Imran also secured bail in two summons sent to him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Toshakhana investigation.

The NAB Rawal­pi­ndi had called the PTI chief on March 9 and March 21 to record his statements in connection with the Toshakhana gifts case. Imran is accused of retaining some state gifts presented to him by various foreign dignitaries, including Rolex wristwat­ches, which he allegedly purchased at throwaway prices and then sold them for millions of rupees.

In his petitions filed today, Imran stated that the call-up notices by the NAB were “clearly indicative of nefarious designs of the respondents [NAB] which is adamant on arresting the petitioner” by “weaving false and frivolous cases”.

A two-member bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi heard Imran’s pleas.

During the hearing, the PTI chief’s lawyer told the court that NAB had already issued a similar notice to Imran earlier as well, saying that “as soon as we take bails, they lodge another case against us”.

He requested that Imran be granted a 15-day protective bail because the latter had to appear before a court in Islamabad.

For his part, Imran told the judge that the date for elections [in Punjab] had been announced but his entire time was spent in court hearings, adding that he could not distribute party tickets.

He further said that not a single case had been registered against him in 50 years but nearly 100 cases were lodged in just one month.

After hearing the arguments, the court granted protective bail to Imran till March 31.

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