LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The Lahore High Court on Friday extended PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s protective bail until March 27 (Monday) in five cases registered against him in Islamabad, including two on the charges of vandalism at the Federal Judicial Complex and the high court.
The former premier was granted protective bail in these five cases on March 17, along with four other cases.
On Friday, the PTI chief — along with his legal team and a few party leaders — appeared before a two-judge bench comprising Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Justice Anwaar Hussain.
As the hearing began, Justice Sheikh asked Mr Khan’s counsel, Barrister Salman Safdar, to cite any legal precedent when someone’s protective bail was extended. The judge observed that apparently there was no law that allowed such an extension.
The registrar’s office also objected to the petition, saying the petitioner (Mr Khan) had already been granted protective bail in the cases.
Islamabad’s lower court makes ex-PM’s arrest warrants bailable in judge threatening case
However, Barrister Safdar argued that Mr Khan had requested an extension as he was facing an “extraordinary situation”.
He said Mr Khan had gone to the Islamabad court for pre-arrest bail but could not enter the premises due to the uncertain situation outside the court’s premises.
He argued that the PTI chief did not misuse the concession of the protective bail, and he couldn’t appear before the Islamabad court due to the situation outside the federal judicial complex.
When Justice Sheikh told the counsel that Mr Khan should have approached the Islamabad High Court on the matter, the counsel said the option to approach the high court was being considered but the former prime minister had threats to his life.
The counsel said Mr Khan’s conduct was before the court, but new cases were being registered against him. He said petitions for the pre-arrest bail had already been filed with the antiterrorism court of Islamabad.
The PTI chairman also came to the rostrum to address the court. He said his vehicle took too much time to reach the judicial complex from the Islamabad motorway toll plaza due to the deployment of a heavy police contingent.
He alleged that police hurled stones and fired teargas at his vehicle “as if I was a terrorist”.
Justice Sheikh directed Mr Khan’s legal team to submit an affidavit about the filing of the pre-arrest bail petitions before the trial court of Islamabad, which was later filed. The judge warned the lawyer of contempt proceedings if the facts in the affidavit were found to be untrue.
On the court’s direction, Mr Khan also read the affidavit, after which the bench extended his protective bail until Monday.
Meanwhile in Islamabad, a district and sessions court on Friday converted the non-bailable arrest warrant — issued to the PTI chairman in a case pertaining to alleged threats to a judge — into a bailable warrant.
The additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ), Sayyed Faizan Haider Gillani, accepted Mr Khan’s plea, filed through his counsel, against the non-bailable arrest warrants against him for apparently avoiding the proceedings in a case registered against him for using threatening language against an ADSJ and top Islamabad police officials.
Mr Khan contended that his arrest warrants issued on March 13 were against the facts and law, as he couldn’t appear in person on the given date due to health issues and threats to his life.
However, special prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi argued that the warrants were rightly issued because of Mr Khan’s continuous absence. He asked the court to dismiss Mr Khan’s petition.
The judge noted that issuing warrants was the court’s discretion to ensure the former premier’s attendance and he might be asked to submit surety bonds.
Meanwhile, an antiterrorism court in Islamabad on Friday granted interim bail to PTI leader Azam Khan Swati, Amjad Niazi and 63 others in a case registered against them over the violence outside the Federal Judicial Complex last week.
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2023
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