Imran, Bushra Bibi indicted in Iddat case

Published January 16, 2024
The file photo shows former premier Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi outside a court last year. — AFP
The file photo shows former premier Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi outside a court last year. — AFP

A Rawalpindi trial court on Tuesday indicted former prime minister Imran Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi in the Iddat case.

The charges against the couple were framed by senior civil judge Qudratullah on a complaint filed by Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband Khawar Farid Maneka under Sections 34 (common intention), 496 (marriage ceremony fraudulently gone through without lawful marriage) and 496B (fornication) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The hearing was conducted at Adiala Jail, where Imran is incarcerated. Ever since his arrest in August last year, the PTI founder has been indicted in multiple cases, including the Toshakhana reference, cipher case and the contempt case against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Last week, despite being already incarcerated, Imran was arrested by Ra­w­a­lpindi police in at least a dozen cases pertaining to the May 9 violence, including the attack on the Gene­ral Headquarters (GHQ).

At the previous hearing, Judge Qudratullah had deferred the indictment in the Iddat case due to Bushra Bibi’s absence. Separately, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had reserved its order a day earlier on a petition seeking to stay trial proceedings in the case.

During the hearing today, Bushra Bibi and Imran appeared before Judge Qudratullah. However, the former first lady left the hearing midway citing health reasons.

“She is not feeling well and has left for the hospital,” PTI lawyer Usman Gul told the court.

At that, the judge inquired if Bushra Bibi had taken permission before leaving the hearing halfway through. “There is a procedure that needs to be followed when one wants to leave. You are a lawyer, you must know that,” he stated.

“Have you ever, to date, fulfilled any commitment?” the irked judge asked the PTI lawyer. He recalled that the court had issued arrest warrants at the previous hearing but withdrew them “keeping the esteem” of PTI leader Latif Khosa.

Subsequently, Gul filed a plea seeking permission for Bushra Bibi’s exemption from the hearing. However, prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi opposed the petition, arguing that the medical report submitted by Imran’s spouse didn’t show any medical problems.

“Bushra Bibi was in court, she cannot deceive anyone like that,” he further contended.

Meanwhile, Judge Qudratullah said a petition for exemption from hearing was only filed when a person was not in the court. “But Bushra Bibi was in court and she left without taking permission,” he noted and sought details of the time of the former first lady’s entry and exit from jail.

Addressing the jail authorities, the judge inquired: “With whose permission did you allow Bushra Bibi to leave prison?” In response, the Adiala Jail superintendent said Imran’s spouse entered the prison at 11:30am and left at 1:45pm.

“Bushra Bibi left the court right before the lawyers arrived,” Rizwan said, claiming that this happened under a “conspiracy”.

For his part, the PTI lawyer said “the sky will not fall” if the indictment was delayed for a day or two to fulfil the legal requirements in the case. But, despite objections from Gul, the court framed charges against the suspects in Bushra Bibi’s absence.

“Did you understand the accusations?” the judge subsequently asked Imran. The PTI founder responded that he couldn’t understand the legal jargon but at the same time contended that “all this is happening under the London Plan”.

“This case was filed under a planning, they want to dismantle my party,” Imran said. “They first pick up people, torture them and then ‘update their software’,” he alleged.

Imran also rejected the charges against him and pleaded not guilty.

Subsequently, the court adjourned the hearing till Jan 18 and summoned witnesses at the upcoming proceedings.

The case

According to Maneka, he was “happily married” to Bushra Bibi since 1989 “till the intrusion of” Imran Khan into their marital affair “under the garb of peeri mureedi”. He recalled that his sister-in-law, Maryam, who resides in the UAE, introduced Imran to them during the 2014 sit-in held by PTI in Islamabad.

Imran then started visiting his house in his absence, Maneka claimed, adding that he used to stay there for hours in his absence. “[This] conduct on his part was highly unethical, un-Islamic [as] he had no reason to stay,” he alleged, adding that the visits “became very frequent with the passage of time, and at one point, respondent No. 1 [Imran Khan] was ousted by me with disgrace”. He said his servant, Lateef, informed him about Imran’s frequent visits.

The petition said Imran’s close friend Zulfi Bukhari used to accompany him even though he was never Bushra Bibi’s disciple. On instances, Bukhari also came to Maneka’s house alone, he claimed.

The PTI founder and Bushra Bibi remained in contact with each other for which cell phones and SIMs were provided to the latter by her friend, Farah Khan aka Farhat Shahzadi, Maneka alleged. “I have reason to believe that they have developed illicit relations with each other even prior to their so-called nikah.”

He stated that harsh words were exchanged between the couple over his ex-wife’s conduct, but she “came up with a cover-up story of spiritualism”.

“I tried my best to reconcile the situation for the sake of my family,” Maneka stated, adding that contact between his ex-wife and Imran continued till Nov 14, 2017, when he “half-heartedly divorced” Bushra Bibi.

Maneka claimed that even after the divorce, he was interested in reconciliation through his mother, but “my plans of reconciliation were frustrated due to [their] premature nikah” allegedly solemnised without observing the iddat period.

A month after their divorce, Farah Khan contacted him and asked to change the date on divorce papers, Maneka claimed, added that he “flatly refused” to do so.

He accused Imran Khan of ruining his life and stigmatising his entire family. He claimed that the former premier and Bushra Bibi “committed a heinous offence by having illicit relations with each other before marriage and contracting nikah during the iddat period”, which contravenes the teachings of Islam.

“I avoided reporting the matter because I was considering it my family matter … but now, things have gone public; that’s why I am before the court,” Maneka added.

Opinion

A state of chaos

A state of chaos

The establishment’s increasingly intrusive role has further diminished the credibility of the political dispensation.

Editorial

Bulldozed bill
Updated 22 May, 2024

Bulldozed bill

Where once the party was championing the people and their voices, it is now devising new means to silence them.
Out of the abyss
22 May, 2024

Out of the abyss

ENFORCED disappearances remain a persistent blight on fundamental human rights in the country. Recent exchanges...
Holding Israel accountable
22 May, 2024

Holding Israel accountable

ALTHOUGH the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor wants arrest warrants to be issued for Israel’s prime...
Iranian tragedy
Updated 21 May, 2024

Iranian tragedy

Due to Iran’s regional and geopolitical influence, the world will be watching the power transition carefully.
Circular debt woes
21 May, 2024

Circular debt woes

THE alleged corruption and ineptitude of the country’s power bureaucracy is proving very costly. New official data...
Reproductive health
21 May, 2024

Reproductive health

IT is naïve to imagine that reproductive healthcare counts in Pakistan, where women from low-income groups and ...