Ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s petition seeking the dismissal of 121 cases registered against him has been fixed before the Lahore High Court (LHC) for tomorrow (Monday).

A two-member bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi will take up the petition.

The plea, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, named both Imran and the PTI as petitioners. It said that the government was “misusing” the criminal justice system to stop the PTI chief from participating in the upcoming elections.

The PTI chairman has stated on multiple occasions that more than 100 cases have been filed against him. He told the LHC the same on March 24 while seeking protective bail in five cases registered against him in Islamabad.

The petition named the federation of Pakistan, the province of Punjab, Punjab Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar, the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment director general, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Punjab caretaker chief minister Mohsin Naqvi, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as respondents.

The petition stated that the purpose of the “false accusations” was “patently mala fide, to disqualify, arrest, or convict” Imran and “eliminate him from the political arena by any means necessary”.

According to the petition, the “extraordinary nature of the attack” on fundamental rights violated the rights of “one of the largest political parties in the country”, including their rights to “life and liberty, fair trial, dignity and privacy of home, movement, assembly, association, speech, and equal treatment” as guaranteed under the Constitution.

It said the criminal cases against Imran were “one of a whole host of tools of persecution designed to silence him, suppress his support, and deny his fundamental rights.”

The petition argued that since Imran and the PTI were the current government’s electoral rivals, “there is no doubt that the state machinery […] is out to completely stall the public life and personal liberty” of the PTI chief.

It also said that a person was entitled under the Constitution to defend themselves in a fair trial but “overwhelming” Imran with cases and refusing his requests for consolidating the hearings curtailed his right to a free trial and rendered him incapable of defending himself.

The petition said that 31 cases were registered against Imran in Islamabad, 30 in Lahore, 14 in Faisalabad, 10 in Rawalpindi, six in Bhakkar, five in Bahawalpur, four each in Rahim Yar Khan and Attock, three each in Sheikhupura and Jhelum, two each in Chakwal and Gujranwala and one each in Quetta, Karachi, Wazirabad, Narowal, Multan, Bahawalnagar and Mianwali.

Similarly, the petition said Imran, the PTI and the party’s supporters were being prevented from exercising their right to contest elections and their freedom of speech was also being curtailed. It argued that while the petitioners were “being targeted and persecuted with the full might of the state”, their political rivals were freely conducting public gatherings and getting media coverage.

The petition urged the court to declare that the “unprecedented repeated abuse of state machinery to register criminal cases against the petitioner, including the lodging of FIRs amounting to 121 […] are illegal, unlawful and is a grave violation of the petitioners’ rights under inter alia Articles 4, 9, 10-A, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution and the same be ‘quashed’ in the interest of justice”.

It also called on the court to direct the respondents to provide a comprehensive report containing the details of the various FIRs and criminal proceedings against the petitioners and to direct that no coercive action is taken against them under the petition is decided.

The plea also urged the court to declare that the actions of the respondents amounted to violating the fundamental rights of the petitioners and to restrain them from initiating any criminal proceedings against the petitioners without “prior notice and/or an opportunity of being heard in the presence of his counsel”.

It further called on the court to declare the mass detention and “disappearance” of political workers contrary to the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution and to release them all forthwith.

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