LHC extends Imran’s protective bail in 5 cases till March 27

Published March 24, 2023
Imran Khan outside the Lahore High Court on Friday.—DawnNewsTV
Imran Khan outside the Lahore High Court on Friday.—DawnNewsTV

The Lahore High Court on Friday extended PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s protective bail till March 27 in five cases registered against him in Islamabad, including two for “vandalism” at the judicial complex and high court.

The former premier had been granted protective bail in the five cases on March 17 when he secured protective bail in a total of nine.

Today, a two-member bench comprising Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Justice Anwaar Hussain heard Imran’s plea for an extension in his protective bail. Imran was represented by Barrister Salman Safdar.

A video posted by the PTI showed Imran, who has appeared before the courts in the past alongside a horde of supporters, arriving at the LHC with his security team and a few workers jogging alongside his vehicle in the rain. His security team shielded him with bulletproof vests as he disembarked and made his way inside.

As he arrived outside the courtroom, Imran was asked by a reporter whether he thought the Election Commission of Pakistan’s deferral of the Punjab elections to October would be struck down by the Supreme Court.

“If the ECP decision is not quashed, how will elections take place in October?” he responded. “In this way, they can say they don’t have any money.”

“The law of the jungle is prevailing here,” he added.

The hearing

At the outset of the hearing, Imran’s lawyer Barrister Safdar said that his client “stood outside the judicial complex for 40 minutes to get bail in these cases”.

Safdar told the court that Imran had not “misused the bail” and that two new cases had been filed against him in Islamabad. In the present circumstances, he cannot appear before the judicial complex in Islamabad, Imran’s lawyer added.

“Imran Khan is a former prime minister and has security threats,” the lawyer said, lamenting that the PTI chief had “no security”. “We have requested an extension in the bail which was already granted,” he said.

“According to me, there is no such law [to extend protective bail],” Justice Sheikh responded.

Safdar argued that Imran’s “conduct is in front of everyone; cases are being filed against him, which we are facing”.

Justice Sheikh, however, told him that they should have approached the Islamabad High Court instead.

“We have been considering this since yesterday, but Imran Khan has a security issue,” Safdar replied, adding that Imran had come to court today accompanied by his security team.

Taking the rostrum, Imran said: “It took me a long time to get from the toll plaza to the court in Islamabad. So many police and FC personnel were deployed that it seemed like a criminal was travelling.

“Stones were being pelted, [teargas] shells were being fired — my life was in danger. My life was in danger, that’s why we returned [to Lahore]. If you watch the video, I was waiting outside the judicial complex for 40 minutes.

“What is happening to me is extraordinary. I have 40 cases of terrorism against me,” Imran said. He told the court that “this has never happened to a former prime minister before”.

Imran’s lawyer Barrister Safdar then interjected. “We want to appear in the court in Islamabad.”

Justice Sheikh asked: “What is the government’s position on this?”

The government’s representative responded that Imran should approach the courts in Islamabad instead of approaching the LHC.

The two-member bench then ordered a number be placed on Imran’s petition as it dismissed the objections raised on his pleas. The hearing was then adjourned for half-an-hour.

When it resumed, Imran’s counsel told the court that his client had to appear before a court in Islamabad on Monday. At this, the court asked when it had previously approved Imran’s bail plea, to which his lawyer replied that bail was granted on March 17.

Barrister Safdar pointed out that Imran had obtained bail on March 17 and gone to Islamabad the very next day for his hearing, adding that this showed his client respected the law.

Barrister Safdar maintained that there were over 100 cases against his client. However, Imran interjected, saying: “Not 100, but 140.”

Continuing, the lawyer said that the PTI chief was asking the court to grant him “constitutional relief”. Saying that the PTI chairman had to appear in Islamabad on March 27 in separate cases, Safdar urged the court to grant Imran protective bail till then.

“All the cases against Imran Khan are politically motivated,” Safdar contended. He reminded the court that an attempt to assassinate Imran had been made in Wazirabad, adding that “his life is still in danger”.

“There won’t be problems in appearing before the courts in Islamabad on the same day,” he said, highlighting that Imran was 71-years-old and the government continued to “lodge cases against him based on lies”.

The government’s lawyer interjected, saying: “The petitioner had obtained protective bails before but did not appear before the court”.

The LHC ordered Imran to submit an affidavit. “You will give an affidavit saying that your plea is pending before an Islamabad ATC,” Justice Sheikh said, adjourning the hearing for a second time.

As the hearing resumed, Imran’s counsel Intizar Hussain Panjhuta submitted the affidavit on his client’s behalf. “We have submitted five affidavits,” Panjhuta said.

Subsequently, the LHC extended the protective bail granted to Imran in five cases till March 27. At the same time, the court made it clear that there would be severe consequences if statements were misrepresented, saying that contempt proceedings could also be initiated against the PTI chief.

Notices issued on Imran’s plea against Zaman Park operation

Separately, a one-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh heard Imran’s petition against the police operation at his Zaman Park residence. The former prime minister was represented by Advocate Azhar Siddique.

At the outset of the hearing, Imran took to the rostrum and pointed out that the court had strictly ordered that no police operation could be carried out at his home. “I went to Islamabad and my wife was alone,” he told the court. “I never wanted to leave my wife alone but I had to go to Islamabad.”

The PTI chairman said police stole his belongings during the operation and also physically assaulted his employees. “I then went on TV and apprised the nation of what happened,” he said. “Forget that I’m a former prime minister. Basic fundamental rights are being violated.”

Subsequently, the court issued notices to the Punjab government and other authorities concerned, before adjourning the hearing till March 28.

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