The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday granted PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s protective bail for 10 days in seven cases — ordering him to appear in the court concerned within that time period — and extended his interim bail till May 9 in two other cases.
On April 18, the IHC had extended Imran’s bail in eight cases till May 3. After he failed to appear on Wednesday, the IHC had granted him a day’s time to appear in court, warning him his bail pleas would be dismissed if he failed to do so.
Two pleas seek relief for Imran in a mutiny case and another pertaining to charges of attempted murder while seven cases pertain to the March 18 violence outside the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) in Islamabad when Imran had appeared for a hearing.
A two-member bench — comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Maingul Hassan Aurangzeb — presided over the hearing for seven of the nine cases while the other two were heard later today by Justice Aamer only.
PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Secretary General Asad Umar, party leaders Fawad Chaudhry, Saifullah Niazi, Ali Muhammad Khan, Babar Awan, Imran Ismail and Malaeka Bokhari were among the PTI members present inside the courtroom.
Only permitted persons were allowed inside the IHC — including Imran’s 15 lawyers, 10 lawyers from the advocate general’s and attorney general’s offices and 30 members of the High Court Journalists’ Association.
Earlier this afternoon, the PTI shared a video on Twitter showing Imran’s vehicle surrounded by supporters while making its way through tight security to reach the entrance of a court.
Ahead of his arrival, video footage from today shared by a Dawn correspondent showed a heavy contingent of Islamabad Police, Frontier Constabulary and Rangers personnel deployed at various locations near the IHC and outside the court’s main gate.
Batons could be seen in the hands of some police and FC personnel while the Rangers were armed with anti-riot gear. The routes to the IHC have been cordoned off by placing barbed wire.
Earlier in the morning, the former premier set out for the IHC from his Zaman Park Residence in Lahore. His party’s official Twitter account shared of video of a convoy of vehicles — one of them having Imran — travelling on the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway.
Hearing in seven cases
At the outset of the hearing, Barrister Safdar said, “Today, section 154 is being profusely used outside [the court]. We fear something huge is about to happen today.
Till today, 140 cases have been registered. We have requested bail in all the cases that were in our knowledge. If there is any secret FIR, finding about it is our right,“ he added.
Safdar recalled Imran had gone to the FJC earlier to secure bail but a security situation had arisen and after that, further cases were filed for which the PTI chief had approached the courts as well.
To this, Justice Aamer replied, “We had said that we will give you protection to approach the related court. You did not even join the investigation yet. We had reiterated since the first date that we will only provide protection.”
The lawyer then argued that all the cases were made on political bases. “A heavy contingent of police is present outside,” he said.
The IHC CJ responded, “You say that there are security threats, which is why the security arrangements were done.”
Barrister Safdar then said, “They want (the government) that we appear in front of seven different investigation officers in seven different cases. We are ready to record the statements for these seven cases right now.”
Justice Aamer remarked: “Your client is present in Islamabad right now. The investigation officers are also here. He may record the statement today.
This statement will not be recorded by you submitting a paper. Follow the procedure determined for the police recording a statement,“ he asserted.
Then, the advocate general objected to the medical report submitted by Imran, arguing that it was from a “private hospital, which was unacceptable”.
At this point during the hearing, PTI’s Fawad appeared on the rostrum and complained that his party chief came to the court “in an injured condition” yet was not allowed to bring his vehicle inside the court premises.
The advocate general then said that motorcycles and cars were set alight when Imran appeared at the FJC.
Here, the court expressed its disapproval of Fawad continuing to speak even after being told not to. “We want to give you relief. If you do not want to take it, then as your wish. We will pass an order on this.” Justice Aamer remarked.
The court then reserved its verdict on Imran’s bail plea in seven cases and the judges then went back to their chambers.
Hearing in two cases
Later today, hearing the other two cases against Imran — on mutiny and attempted murder charges — the IHC extended Imran’s interim bail till May 9.
A single-member bench comprising the IHC CJ presided over the hearing while Barrister Safdar again appeared as Imran’s counsel and Advocate General Jahangir Jadoon was present as well.
At the outset of the hearing, Barrister Safdar asked the court to hear the cases until the “district courts shifted to a new building”.
To this, Justice Aamer responded, “Do not go to this. The lawyers say that they will be shifted after the summer holidays. You may give the material on the video link request so that we can make a decision on it.”
The IHC CJ recalled Imran had submitted a plea seeking an exemption from a court appearance and noted that a “government hospital’s report should have been attached with it”.
The advocate general then assured the court the government would provide him with access to a hospital of Imran’s own choice.
He informed the court that the petitioner says 140 cases have been filed against him. “They may tell a single case [filed] in Islamabad that is not genuine,” he added.
Barrister Safdar then reiterated his claim of ill-intentioned cases being made against his client: “Criminal cases were registered by wrongfully using state machinery.”
The court then overruled the objections raised on Imran’s petition.
Justice Aamer directed the petitioner to first join the investigation. “If you ever have to seek an exemption from attendance for medical reasons, do so. Legally, a private hospital’s medical report is not accepted,” he observed.
Addressing the court, the advocate general said, “You are giving [Imran] relief in a sweet atmosphere.” The IHC CJ then asked him, “So what else should we do?” The advocate general said to tell one case that was “false”.
At this point during the hearing, Imran’s counsel asked the court for a 12-day extension in Imran’s bail.
The IHC noted that a petition pertaining to attending court hearings via a video link was under hearing and that the court had asked the special prosecutor for legal documents related to the case.
Here, the advocate general assured the court that the state would provide “fool-proof security if the petitioner would appear for investigation”.
The court then extended Imran’s interim bail till May 9 and issued notices to the respondents in the case filed at Ramna police station. The court also directed Barrister Safdar to submit documents related to the case of attending hearings via a video link.
‘Solidarity with CJP’
Before departing for the court, the PTI chief shared a video message, in which he said he was going to the IHC despite “swelling on my foot” as the court has summoned him and he respected the courts.
“I want to say that we respect the courts — unlike those, who, at all times, do all kinds of low acts and carry out propaganda against the judges if decisions are not in their favour,” Imran said.
Once again naming a senior military official, whom he calls “Dirty Harry”, Imran claimed he would be responsible “if something happened” to his party member Murad Saeed.
Recalling the Wazirabad assassination attempt on him last year, he added that there was also a second assassination attempt made on March 18 at the Federal Judicial Complex, where he had appeared for a case hearing.
“I want to make it clear that if something happens to me, this Dirty Harry will be behind it and not any terrorist or what they say that there is a risk from a foreign agency — I am not in danger from anyone [but] this person and whoever is with him,” Imran said.
He then called on to his party supporters to come out on the streets at 5:30pm on May 6 “for one hour to express solidarity” with Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial.
The former premier then proceeded to announce his party would be holding four rallies on Saturday — in Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar, with him leading the Lahore one — to “tell the CJP that the nation is standing with him”.
Separately, party vice-chairman Qureshi took to Twitter saying, “Chairman Imran Khan is going to appear in the court to face bogus cases even today despite the ill-health and grave danger to life.
“I want to warn the authorities that any kind of misadventure on this occasion can become the reason for a tense situation,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad Police tweeted: “Security arrangements have been made for Imran Khan’s appearance according to the court order. All arrangements are as usual, which were also made at previous hearings.
“Protection of the citizens’ life and belongings is the police’s responsibility. It is requested from the public to refrain from propaganda and rumours,” it added.
In the early hours of Thursday, the police had tweeted that a ban on all public gatherings was applied in Islamabad under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in relation to Imran’s appearance at the IHC.
Imran’s leg injury aggravated: PTI
Following the hearing on May 3 on the same cases as today, PTI Senator Shibli Faraz had said Imran’s leg had been injured again during an appearance at the Lahore High Court. He added that doctors had recommended the former premier rest for 10 days.
Party leader Iftikhar Durrani had also shared a picture of an x-ray of Imran’s leg and said his “injured leg has been damaged” further.
Imran received bullet injuries to his leg in an assassination attempt when he stopped to deliver a speech in Punjab’s Wazirabad during his “Haqeeqi Azadi march” last year. The 70-year-old has since been convalescing at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
Attempted murder case
On Oct 23, 2022, Ranjha had lodged a criminal complaint claiming that the shot fired by a KP policeman outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Constitution Avenue on Oct 21, 2022 was “an attempt on his life” allegedly at the behest of Imran.
The disqualification of Imran in the Toshakhana case had sparked protests in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, especially at Faizabad, resulting in the arrest of three people — a PTI lawmaker and his two police guards.
The clash between the protesters and police had started outside the ECP soon after the verdict disqualifying Imran when the KP police guard of MNA Saleh Mohammad fired a gunshot.