Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq on Monday ruled that PTI Chairman Imran Khan be shifted to Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail from the Attock district jail, where he is currently incarcerated in the cipher case.
The PTI chief was sent to jail on August 5 after he was convicted in the Toshakhana case. The trial court had ordered the Islamabad police chief to arrest the PTI chairman, but he was instead arrested by the Lahore police.
Moreover, the court had ordered the Adiala jail superintendent to receive Imran but he was taken to Attock jail. Subsequently, the ex-premier had petitioned the IHC seeking transfer from Attock jail to a better class facility in Adiala jail.
On August 11, Justice Farooq had reserved the verdict on Imran’s transfer application, stating he would “issue an appropriate order” on it.
Although the IHC had suspended his sentence in the Toshakhana case on August 29, a special court had directed Attock jail authorities to keep him in “judicial lockup” in connection with the cipher case.
Special court hearings in the cipher case against the PTI chief have been taking place at the Attock jail, citing security reasons. Earlier this month, the IHC also reserved its verdict on Imran’s plea challenging his trial at the Attock jail, rather than in Islamabad.
Today, Justice Farooq presided over the hearing while Imran’s lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat and Additional Attorney General Munawar Iqbal Dogal appeared before the court.
During the hearing, the IHC CJ remarked, “Shift the PTI chairman to Adiala jail”. He also sought a response from AAG Dogal on the matter.
A written ruling has yet to be issued in the case.
Meanwhile, talking to the media outside the IHC, Marwat said they had “finally been granted justice from the IHC to the extent of transfer of Khan sahib from the Attock jail to Adiala jail”, adding that it was a “little bit of justice” but he was glad about it.
He expressed his gratitude to Justice Farooq but also expressed his dissatisfaction at the court adjourning the hearing on a plea seeking an open hearing of Imran’s bail plea in the cipher case.
He said the reasons for which the hearing had been adjourned were “not acknowledged in the law”. Marwat expressed hope that the hearing would be held within a few days.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Farooq observed, “The status of PTI chairman’s sentence has changed. All under-trial prisoners of Islamabad are detained at the Adiala jail.”
He then asked, “Why has the PTI chairman been kept at the Attock [jail] till now? Why not at the Adiala jail?”
The IHC CJ recalled that according to the “original order” of the Toshakhana case, Imran was to be kept at the Adiala jail.
Addressing AAG Dogal, he asked, “If tomorrow, you transfer him to Rahim Yar Khan, then will we hold the trial there?”
At this, Dogal replied, “When the PTI chairman was detained in the cipher case, the court order was [to hold him at] the Attock jail.”
Subsequently, Justice Farooq remarked, “Shift the PTI chairman to Adiala Jail.” He also sought a response from AAG Dogal on the matter.
Meanwhile, Marwat requested the court that the former premier be provided with an exercise machine as he was a “sportsman”.
Verdict reserved on open hearing of bail plea
Separately, the IHC reserved its verdict on Imran’s plea seeking an open hearing of his bail plea in the cipher case.
Justice Farooq presided over this hearing as well while lawyers Salman Safdar, Niazullah Niazi and Ali Bukhari, among others, appeared as the PTI chief’s counsels. Special prosecutors Zulfikar Naqvi and Shah Khawar also appeared before the court.
At the outset of the hearing, Khawar contended before the court that “there were a lot of things that could not be made public before the court”, adding that the Official Secrets Act mandated that the hearing be held in-camera.
At this, Justice Farooq noted the matter was not of a criminal appeal but rather a bail petition. Khawar then informed the court that the challan of the cipher case would be ready in a few days.
Here, Barrister Safdar argued that the special court judge had held the hearing at the Attock jail due to security reasons, and not due to it being mandated by the Secrets Act.
“If the court deems so, it can tell irrelevant people to leave the courtroom,” he added. To this, Khawar replied that the matter of bail was also part of the cipher hearing.
Referring to Imran and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Safdar asserted, “A former prime minister and a [former] foreign minister are under arrest. Issues are being created in the post-arrest bail plea.”
Here, Justice Farooq observed he would decide how to proceed with the case after reviewing the case record. Subsequently, the IHC reserved its verdict on the matter.
Addressing the court, Marwat said, “The entire nation has set its eyes on this bail plea.”
To this, the IHC CJ remarked, “Now, there would even be live streaming of court hearings. If they are live-streamed, the entire world will see the court proceedings.
“As the chief justice (of IHC), this action will start from my court. We should be prepared accordingly,” he observed.