The Islamabad High Court on Monday granted PTI Chairman Imran Khan interim bail in seven cases registered against him following clashes at the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) on March 18 when the former premier had appeared in the Toshakhana case.
In petitions filed in the IHC today, the PTI chief sought interim bail in the cases registered against him at Golra, Bara Kahu, Ramna, Khanna, and CTD police stations.
A two-member IHC division bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, heard the former premier’s petition.
The pleas, filed through Barrister Salman Safdar, stated that Imran would suffer “irreparable loss” if he was arrested.
“Furthermore, being head of the single largest political party, there is an apprehension that his political adversaries and opponents would be able to further their nefarious designs and political ambitions if pre-arrest bail is not granted to the petitioner,” they added.
Earlier, a video on PTI’s official Twitter showed the PTI chairman entering the court premises as a huge contingent of the Islamabad police surrounded his vehicle.
He was escorted to the courtroom while being covered with a bullet-proof jacket as per Dawn.com correspondent present at the scene.
When asked by a reporter during an unofficial talk with the media upon his arrival about Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s recent remarks about Imran, the former premier replied, “My wish is that both (Imran and Rana Sanaullah) remain but if he is saying that then I will just say that he won’t remain.”
“For politicians, the doors for talks remain open. Those who have been playing by collaborating with the umpire, what would they know about a level-playing field,” he added.
During the hearing today, Justice Farooq reprimanded Islamabad Attorney General Jehangir Jadoon for taking back security provided to the former premier.
The court also sought a response from the federal government on why the security was recalled.
At the outset of the hearing, Imran’s counsel said, “An objection was raised on the biometric [fingerprints]. If the age becomes more than 60, it (biometric) becomes difficult.
Upon this, Justice Farooq asked rhetorically, “Why? Does the thumbprint vanish after 60 years?
“In fact, it is very easy now. Get them done from any Easypaisa shop and submit them,” he told the lawyer.
Barrister Safdar then proceeded to tell the court that Imran did not go to the trial court due to “security risks”.
The IHC chief justice then asked, “Why did you come to the Islamabad High Court after bypassing the trial court?”
He further said, “You have to maintain the law and order situation. If you will bring 10,000 people with you to the court appearance, then of course there will be a law and order situation.”
To this, Imran’s counsel replied, “We do not call anyone. People come by themselves.
At this point during the hearing, Imran appeared on the rostrum but Justice Farooq directed him to return to his seat, which he obliged with.
The IHC chief justice went on to say, “There are security risks to Imran Khan, which must be genuine. There has also been an attack on Imran Khan once.”
At this point during the hearing, the court called Islamabad Advocate General Jehangir Jadoon to the rostrum. Justice Aurangzeb said, “The court told the chief commissioner numerous times to provide security [to Imran].”
To this, Jadoon responded, “The trial court was shifted from the F-8 katcheri to the Judicial Complex.
He further said that the former premier did not come out of his car at the court and his party workers lit cars on fire.
The court then replied that the security of each citizen is the state’s responsibility. “The state should do its work and assure protection,” he added.
The IHC chief justice then said, “You do not provide security then what else would they do? We have just received a petition today; will hear it tomorrow.
“What would happen when the state would give irresponsible statements?” Justice Farooq asked Jadoon.
The court said, “A former prime minister is given a special security protocol.”
It asked Imran’s counsel, “When the former prime minister goes somewhere, is he provided special security?” to which Barrister Safdar answered that the security given to his client was taken back.
The court then inquired if the security was taken back by the federal government or the provincial. At this point, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry mentioned Sanaullah’s remarks about Imran from a day ago.
The advocate general then complained that Imran “did not appear for investigation in any case”.
Justice Farooq reprimanded Jadoon for taking back security from Imran: “You are the government’s representative but you are a law officer. You have done a wrong act by taking back security from a former premier.”
Upon hearing this, Jadoon said, “I am not sure about this. I will confirm.”
The IHC chief justice asserted, “Will also notify the government about the security. We will provide you interim bail [and] also determine the [next] date.”
He observed, “You will definitely have to go to the Anti-Terrorism Court for bail. Will hear your case here till the security issue is solved.”
The court then sought a response from the federal government on why security was taken back from Imran.
13 PTI workers arrested: police
Ahead of the hearing, PTI leader Shireen Mazari claimed that Imran’s photographer Imran G and three other civilians were taken into custody by the police while they were on the way to the IHC.
“These 4 unarmed civilians, one of whom is our official photographer, were with Imran Khan car on way to IHC & were arrested without having committed any crime & now apparently taken to Ramna police station. Then we are targeted for criticising the ICT police!” she tweeted.
Separately, videos on PTI’s official Twitter party supporters being taken away by men in civilian attires.
“Its shameful how PTI workers are being arrested in Islamabad today. Why are people not in even in uniform putting our people in prison vans,” the party asked.
On the other hand, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Hasan Wattoo told Dawn.com that a total of 13 PTI supporters have been arrested by the police so far.
Ready for talks with government on elections: Qureshi
Meanwhile, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi has thrown the ball in the government’s court by asking it to take the next step for talks with the PTI.
“We never hesitate from holding talks but their intention has a taint … they talk about holding dialogue but at the same time out supporters and activists are being picked up,” he said at in a media talk in Islamabad today.
“Are they doing all this to make the environment favourable for talks?” Qureshi asked rhetorically.
Criticising the incumbent government for making statements that “vitiate the [political] climate”, the PTI leader said: “You have invited us for talks … so inform us about your team […] you should tell [us] their names. What is your agenda? Put it forward so we can see and constitute our team accordingly.
“If we can find a way to materialise elections by sitting together, then we are ready,” Qureshi asserted.
Section 144 imposed in Islamabad
On Sunday night, the Islamabad administration imposed Section 144 (ban on public gatherings) in the capital today and warned of arrests in case of the violation of its order.
“In light of court orders, only relevant individuals will be allowed to enter the court premises,” the Islamabad capital police said in a tweet.
It added that the PTI had named Amir Kiyani for coordination between the police and the party. Moreover, a central control room has also been established at the Safe City Headquarters to monitor the situation in the capital.
Imran’s legal battle
The sessions court was set to indict Imran in the Toshakhana reference on Feb 28, but his lawyer had requested the judge that he be exempted from the hearing because he had to appear in several other courts. His indictment was deferred multiple times before.
The judge had subsequently issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran and instructed the police to present him in court by March 7. The PTI chief managed to dodge the arrest and later approached the IHC for the cancellation of the warrants.
The IHC, while granting some relief to Imran, had told him to appear in the sessions court by March 13, but the former prime minister once again skipped the hearing. Resultantly, ADSJ Iqbal had on Monday re-issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran and directed the police to bring him to court by March 18.
However, when the police reached Imran’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore to arrest him on Tuesday, they were met with stiff resistance, leading to two-day pitched battles between PTI supporters and law enforcement agencies. The clashes ultimately subsided after the courts intervened on Wednesday.
That same day, the PTI also challenged the latest arrest warrants issued for Imran in the IHC. It rejected the plea and directed the PTI chief to submit an undertaking to the trial court.
Upon submitting the undertaking, the sessions court remarked said the warrants could not be suspended on the basis of an undertaking.
On March 18, ex-PM’s arrest warrants in Toshakhana case were cancelled as ADSJ Zafar Iqbal allowed him to leave after marking his attendance due to clashes between Islamabad Police and PTI workers outside the Judicial Complex.
The hearing was adjourned till March 30 (Thursday) due to the turbulence and chaos witnessed outside the court, with the judge ordering Imran to appear in personal capacity in the next hearing.
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