LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday withdrew a stay order against the call-up notice to former prime minister Imran Khan by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in an inquiry into an audio leak relating to the cipher controversy.

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi recalled the stay, allowing an appeal of the federal government challenging the stay secured by Mr Khan on Dec 6, 2022. The judge had reserved his verdict after hearing arguments of the government the other day and the decision was issued on Tuesday.

Deputy Attorney General Asad Ali Bajwa argued in court that the FIA had launched an inquiry with lawful authority and summoned the former prime minister. He said Mr Khan had concealed facts before the court and secured a stay against the FIA notice.

On the question of the court’s territorial jurisdiction, the law officer contended that the notice under challenge was issued by FIA Islamabad and that too over his Islamabad address. Therefore, he argued, the LHC had no territorial jurisdiction to hear the matter. He also cited the Supreme Court verdicts in support of his argument and asked the court to withdraw the injunctive order and allow FIA to resume the inquiry.

Judge in Toshakhana case turns down calls for recusal; PTI chief, spouse summoned on 20th in Iddat matter

“Learned counsel for the writ petitioner despite under notice is not available without any prior intimation to this court but the proxy counsel requests for an adjournment and, therefore, only learned additional and deputy attorney generals are heard,” Justice Najafi observed in his order.

The judge recalled the restraining order by allowing the application of the government.

In his writ petition, the PTI chief had contended that the FIA initiated the inquiry into the alleged audio leak pertaining to the diplomatic cipher, but the notice sent by FIA was silent about any criminal wrongdoing committed by the petitioner.

Toshakhana case

In Islamabad, a trial court seized with the Toshakhana case dismissed objections raised by the PTI chairman against the judge hearing the case.

As hearing resumed on Tuesday, Mr Khan raised an objection to Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar over posts on his Facebook account, saying they showed the judge’s grudge against him.

PTI’s counsel Barrister Gohar Ali Khan asked the judge to recuse himself from the case.

The counsel for the Election Commission of Pakistan, on the other hand, argued that Mr Khan had already filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court, seeking transfer of the case to another judge. The ECP counsel termed the allegations against the judge a part of a character assassination campaign.

However, the judge regretted that Barrister Gohar displayed the social media posts in court without ascertaining their authenticity and dismissed the plea seeking his recusal.

Iddat case

Also on Tuesday, a senior civil judge termed a plea seeking legal action against the PTI chairman for reportedly marrying Bushra Bibi during the latter’s Iddat period admissible and summoned both of them for July 20.

Iddat is a 130-day waiting period, or a period of abstinence, after the dissolution of a woman’s marriage during which she is supposed to remain unmarried.

The judge ruled that his “court has the territorial jurisdiction to take cognizance in this matter because the place Banigala comes within the jurisdiction of the court”.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2023

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