LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday restrained police from “harassing” PTI Chair­man Imran Khan a day after he expressed appre­­h­e­n­­sions about ano­ther operation at his Zaman Park residence during Eidul Fitr holidays.

A five-member larger bench, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, passed the order on Mr Khan’s petition challenging the cases against him.

On Wednesday, Mr Khan personally appeared before the bench along with his legal team. His counsel, Barrister Salman Safdar, argued that back-to-back cases have been registered against his client at the behest of the government.

He said the petitioner was on bail in all cases registered to date, but there was information that police are planning an operation at Zaman Park during Eid holidays.

He urged the bench to extend interim relief to his client since courts would be closed for five days during Eid holidays.

Punjab Additional Advocate General (AAG) Ghulam Sarwar Nehang argued that it was surprising that the petitioner wanted the court to pass a restraining order against police actions.

He also questioned Mr Khan’s claim about the possibility of an operation outside his house asking him to present evidence of any intended operation.

He said the petition of the PTI chief was based on apprehensions and there was no official information about the alleged police operation.

However, he added the law would take its course in case of any cognisable offence.

Justice Sheikh asked the law officer whether he could give an undertaking that no action would be taken in the already registered cases.

AAG Nehang replied that the ongoing legal proceedings would continue.

At this, Justice Najafi interjected saying that he would rephrase the question of his brother judge. “Will the government let Imran Khan celebrate Eidul Fitr at home?” he candidly asked the AAG.

The law officer said a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the government in at least ten cases against the PTI leadership and workers could not be barred from doing its job.

Justice Neelum observed that the petitioner could not be touched as long as he was on bail.

“We are not asking you to stop legal proceedings,” the judge made it clear to the government’s lawyer.

The law officer said he had complete information about the cases and bail granted to the petitioner. He assured the bench that no action would be taken in the cases in which the petitioner was on bail and everything would be done in line with the law.

Justice Neelum said this legally worded assurance by the government increased the apprehensions of the petitioner’s side.

Justice Rafiq observed that the law provided that an investigation of a case could be suspended if there was no chance that the suspect would flee.

The law officer replied that it was the investigating officer’s prerogative to decide.

He regretted that petrol bombs were hurled at police teams outside Zaman Park and at least 69 personnel were injured.

‘Say something new’

At this point, PTI chief Khan came to the rostrum to explain his position.

He said that the nation knew him for the last 50 years and that he never violated the law but dozens of cases had been registered against him.

Justice Najafi interrupted the PTI chief and asked him to not repeat old things and say something new.

Mr Khan claimed that the police launched an operation at his house despite the high court’s stay order. He claimed his house was under attack for 26 hours. “I also survived a life attempt.”

AAG Nehang said the petitioner should not be afraid of the law as his party was named after ‘justice’.

After the proceedings, the bench briefly reserved its verdict before announcing it.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2023

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