PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday petitioned the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his indictment in the cipher case, calling on it to declare the exercise “illegal and unlawful”.

The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document that the charge sheet claims was never returned by Imran. The PTI alleges that the document contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran from office.

The PTI chief was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in the Toshakhana graft case on Aug 5. The IHC suspended his sentence on August 29 but he remained in jail because he was on judicial remand in the cipher case.

On Sept 30, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had submitted a challan — a charge sheet — in a special court established under the Official Secrets Act naming PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Imran as the principal accused in the case.

On Monday, both the PTI leaders were indicted in the case. According to sources, the two PTI leaders pleaded not guilty and subsequently, the judge summoned the witnesses on Oct 27 and asked the prosecution to place evidence to substantiate the allegations.

The judge had also rejected the application to stop the framing of charges against the two PTI leaders.

Today, Imran filed a plea with the IHC through his lawyer Salman Safdar. The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, named the state through the attorney general’s office and Ministry of Interior Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokhar as respondents.

It said that the petitioner was “quite aggrieved” with the mode and manner of framing of charges as well as the proceedings and the trial under the Official Secrets Act. “The trial is clearly progressing, violating and compromising settled principles of ‘criminal law’ resulting in [a] grave miscarriage of justice,” it said.

It contended that the judge in the case, in “sheer haste, compromising fair trial and procedure, proceeded to frame charges against the accused despite serious objections and pendency of applications filed before the court …”.

It said that there was a “visible haste” apparent in the actions of the judge. “There seems to be a clear rush and haste on past of learned trial judge to hurriedly frame charges and conclude trial. This contention holds appeal especially in light of the fact that [the] challan has only recently been submitted in court, and there is no direction” for its early conclusion or for conducting day-to-day hearing by any superior court.

It further said that the special court had framed charges under Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, which was in “blatant and brazen violation of the law”.

The petition said that Imran’s “secret arrest” followed by “secret remand” and the haste in indicting him were “clearly indicative of erroneous approach and understanding of practice and procedure whilst adjudicating on the cipher trial”.

It added that the judge had committed a “gross illegality” by framing charges in the absence of “main documentary evidence”.

The plea said that the exercise of framing charges would be “pointless and futile when the nucleus of the prosecution case, cipher telegram, is not part of the challan”.

Therefore, the petition urged the IHC to declare the “hasty exercise” of framing of charges to be “illegal, unlawful and against the settled principles of the Code of Criminal Procedure”.

It also urged the court to declare the exercise in violation of Article 4 (due process) and 10-A (right to fair trial) of the Constitution.

“It is further prayed that the incurable irregularity be cured with an appropriate direction and evidence may not be recorded on [a] ’defective charge,” the petition said.

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