Special court directs jail official to let Imran contact his sons over telephone

Published October 18, 2023
This image shows an exterior wall of the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on October 5. — Reuters/File
This image shows an exterior wall of the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on October 5. — Reuters/File

The special court on Wednesday directed the Adiala Jail superintendent to allow incarcerated PTI Chairman Imran Khan to get in touch with his sons on a telephone call.

The PTI chief was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in the Toshakhana graft case on August 5, 2023. He was subsequently shifted to Attock jail, but the IHC later suspended his sentence. However, Imran remained in jail because he was on judicial remand in the cipher case.

On August 30, the special court had directed the Attock district jail superintendent to make arrangements for a phone call between the PTI chief and his sons.

However, upon the failure of the jail officials to do so, Imran’s legal team had filed a contempt of court petition in a special court against the superintendent.

Last month, the IHC accepted Imran’s petition to be shifted to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi from Attock district jail. He has since remained there on judicial remand and is expected to be indicted in the cipher case on October 23, along with former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Today, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain took up a petition seeking directives to the Adiala jail officials to allow Imran to contact his sons. Sheraz Ahmed Ranjha appeared in court as the PTI chairman’s counsel.

In the written order issued, the judge noted that the jail superintendent had “submitted his comments with the respect of SOPs in which there is no doubt that this sought of desired communication through telephone or by other mode in abroad are not warranted, specifically case in hand which is of Official Secret Act Court but the agonies of [the] family cannot [be] kept isolated”.

He then stated that the jail superintendent was directed to allow Imran to make a phone call to “family members (real sons)”.

The hearing

At the outset of the hearing, the judge noted that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding a telephone conversation had not been received from the Adiala jail superintendent.

In response, the lawyer offered to assist the court with the matter and also requested the court allow his client to be provided with a cycle for exercise.

Judge Zulqarnain responded that he had already issued directives to the jail officials for providing a cycle, to which Ranjha said he could provide the cycle today if the court allowed.

“I do not want the cycle to be misused such that the jail superintendent keeps using the cycle. We also have to keep the jail manual in mind. For us, the security of an under-trial prisoner is important,” the judge said.

At this, the lawyer offered that the court may appoint a person in whose supervision the cycle could be used.

The judge asked: “The PTI chairman says to get him meals from [his] home but who will take the responsibility for it?” He added that if the meals were prepared at the jail, the officials were responsible for it.

Judge Zulqarnain then said he would issue an order on the matter of providing a cycle. At this, the counsel informed the court that Imran’s sister, Aleema Khan, had to come to the court today.

The judge then asked if he wanted the verdict to be pronounced in the presence of Aleema and ordered a break in the hearing until she arrived.

When the hearing resumed upon the sister’s arrival, the special court judge observed that according to the SOPs, the suspect was not allowed to make calls abroad. “I will still review the matter of a telephone conversation according to the jail manual.”

Ranjha argued that the Official Secrets Act did not bar the suspect from making a phone call to his family.

“According to the Prison Rules, there is permission to let the wife and children meet [the suspect] for 12 hours. Other suspects are absolutely allowed to have a telephonic conversation,” he added.

At this, Judge Zulqarnain asked the lawyer to show him where it was written in the jail manual that the suspect was allowed to make a phone call abroad.

Ranjha then admitted that the jail manual did not permit it but cited that the Federal Shariat Court had allowed so in a verdict and submitted the verdict in the special court.

The counsel stated that prisoners were allowed to contact family members on Saturdays, at which the judge once again asked him to cite the permission to talk to someone abroad.

“The Attock jail superintendent misrepresented matters. A show-cause notice should be issued,” Imran’s lawyer said.

“I am saying in your favour. I am giving permission for a telephone conversation. The Adiala jail superintendent is allowed to have the sons talk [to Imran],” the special court judge observed.

Subsequently, he disposed of the former premier’s plea.

Aleema asks cycle to be provided to Imran

At one point during the hearing, Aleema said before the court, “I want to say something. The facility of a gym is present in Adiala Jail. There is a cycle in the PTI chairman’s house that he uses. My brother has not asked for anything aside from the cycle.”

To this, the judge replied, “Keeping the family in mind, I have granted you the favour. Do not worry.”

Aleema then asked if it was possible for a person to provide the cycle from Imran’s house. Judge Zulqarnain asked, “The PTI chairman is an important personality, an important life. If something happens on the way while delivering the cycle, who will be responsible?”

To this, Aleema replied, “It is a clear matter. You have the control of the jail. Whenever you issue an order on the cycle, it will be delivered to the jail.”

The judge responded: “I went to the jail and got the wall demolished. Which judge does this? The wall in the jail has been demolished. Now his walk is continuing comfortably.”

Imran’s sister reiterated that the cycle be provided to her brother “as soon as possible”. At this, the judge said, “Tell me something that you have asked for and I have not given.”

Aleema replied, “We will be very grateful if the PTI chairman gets justice. The PTI chairman has only wished for health during his life. Judge sahib, it is hoped from you that you will get the cycle delivered to the PTI chairman as well.”

Judge Zulqarnain responded, “We will provide everything except a swimming pool to the PTI chairman. Take care that it[’s tyre] does not get punctured.” Aleema then urged the judge to issue the order so she could send the cycle.



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