ISLAMABAD: Incarcerated PTI Chairman Imran Khan approached the Supreme Court on Friday to seek post-arrest bail in the cipher case.

The PTI leader, who is facing a case registered against him Under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1923 for making public contents of the confidential diplomatic cable, has also assured the Supreme Court that he is ready to furnish reasonable surety to the satisfaction of the top court and undertakes not to abscond or tamper with the prosecution witnesses.

Earlier on Oct 16, the Islamabad High Court had rejected Mr Khan’s post-arrest bail plea.

Moved through Advocate Salman Safdar on behalf of Mr Khan, the petition pleaded that it was an unequivocal and well-established principle of the Supreme Court that bail should never be wielded as a form of punishment.

The grant of bail is a remedy primarily vested in the discretion of courts, a discretion that must be exercised with the utmost care and caution, as it constitutes a fundamental facet of the judicial power, the petition said. Each bail application must be meticulously considered in light of the relevant facts and circumstances as they pertain to liberties of citizens, he added.

Assures top court he won’t abscond or try to influence prosecution witnesses

The liberty of a citizen has been elevated to a high pedestal by provisions of Articles 7 and 9 of the Constitution which ensure that no citizen should be deprived of his life or liberty, save in accordance with law, nor any accused person should be detained without lawful authority of the competent court.

Unfortunately, a disheartening trend has emerged where the state machinery, in a questionable display of power and authority, has made strenuous attempts to concoct and fabricate false cases, the petition alleged, adding that the registration of the cipher case was another facet of this malevolent campaign, with the sole objective of settling scores with the petitioner.

The petition contended that the IHC’s Oct 16 order engaged in a detailed evaluation of the matter, which was not in consonance with the traditional approach in bail matters. Instead, in bail proceedings, the court, historically exercising care and caution, undertakes a preliminary and tentative assessment to determine if a prima facie case exists against the accused.

The petition argued that the high court had clearly travelled much beyond the ‘tentative assessment’ and it indulged in unnecessary in-depth ‘deeper appreciation’ by adjudicating the bail application on four days with arguments spanning over 10 hours.

Thus a great prejudice has been caused with delayed adjudication, prolonged submissions and an extraordinary and lengthy bail refusal order, the petition said.

It alleged that the initiation of the cipher case, orchestrated at the behest of the interior secretary and executed by the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA), represents yet another endeavour to subject the petitioner to political victimisation.

This orchestrated effort to target the petitioner is part of an ongoing pattern of the abuse of the Criminal Justice System, all under the directive of political adversaries.

It is noteworthy that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as per the prosecution case itself, is the original recipient of the cipher telegram. But quite mischievously, the Foreign Office has been kept at bay and instead the interior secretary has assumed the role of complainant in the instant case.

It appeared, the petition regretted, the Foreign Office was not aggrieved and the actual locus standi was hijacked by the then interior minister who directly controlled the FIA and used the opportunity for settling political scores.

Thus the petitioner is entitled to the grant of bail in the light of this objectionable conduct alone, the petition argued.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2023

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