ISLAMABAD: After the special court turned down a similar request earlier this week, PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC), seeking post-arrest bail in the cipher case.
Separately, his party filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, challenging the registrar’s Sept 14 decision to return a petition for “being not entertainable”.
The former prime minister has challenged the dismissal of his bail plea by a special court, set up under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Mohammad Zulqarnain had, on Sept 14, dismissed the bail petitions of Mr Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
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In his order, the judge stated: “Perusal of the record transpires that accused/petitioners namely Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi are nominated in FIR with their respective roles. Sufficient incriminating material is available on record to connect the accused/petitioners with the instant case.
“Record further depicts that there appear reasonable grounds for believing that accused/petitioners are guilty of offence under sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.”
The FIR in the cipher case was registered under both sections of the Official Secrets Act.
Section 5 is related to wrongful communication of confidential information while Section 9 is about an attempt to commit or abet the commission of an offence under the Secrets Act.
However, the ex-premier’s plea before the IHC contended that neither Section 5 nor Section 9 is applicable in the cipher case. Nor does the law have “any remote relevance to the allegations detailed in the FIR”, he stated.
The petition further said that former interior minister Rana Sanaullah and the FIA made “contradictory statements” according to which the “original cipher document is securely held in the custody of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that the FIR could have been lodged by the Foreign Ministry.
According to the petition, the state machinery is being misused with the sole objective of “political victimisation and score-settling”. Mr Khan, it pointed out, faced 180 criminal cases and the cipher case was registered against him after other cases turned out to be “baseless and frivolous”.
The petition said the OSA could have been invoked in case Mr Khan would have shared the confidential information with an “enemy state”. It added that the investigation agency could not recover anything from Mr Khan. The counsel recollected that the cipher issue had been thrashed out by the National Security Committee after which a demarche was also issued.
In the appeal filed in the Supreme Court, the PTI has assailed the registrar’s Sept 14 decision of returning the petition for “being not entertainable” with a request to set aside the objections.
Filed on behalf of Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, the appeal urged the apex court to hear and decide the case. On Sept 14, the registrar had returned the PTI’s petition, challenging the Council of Common Interests’ (CCI) decision to approve the digital census of 2023.
The petitioner had pleaded that the CCI’s Aug 5 decision to approve the digital census should be declared illegal, unlawful, and void ab initio. It further said that the Aug 8 notification by the Bureau of Statistics, in which the census was published, should also be declared illegal, unlawful, and void ab initio.
On Saturday, the PTI pleaded the registrar office had arbitrarily decided that multiple prayers could not be made in one constitutional petition, though there was no rule prohibiting “multifarious prayers,” and it was unclear from where the registrar drew this power. Therefore, it added, the registrar’s decision should be set aside.
In its earlier petition, PTI had argued that the delimitation exercise proposed to be undertaken by the Election Commission of Pakistan on Aug 17 should also be declared illegal, unlawful, and void ab initio. It stated that the date of elections to be fixed by the ECP may be declared to be ultra vires of the Constitution and being contrary to articles 48(5)(a), 58(1), 105(3)(a), 112(1), and 224 of the Constitution.
The party had sought a direction from the SC for President Dr Arif Alvi to announce a date for holding the general elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the National Assembly.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2023