• Ex-PM says case instituted to hurt his dignity, will not back down; verdict termed contrary to Sharia
• PTI founder, spouse sentenced to seven years in jail for marrying ‘during Iddat’
• Rawalpindi court to take up May 9 cases against Imran on Feb 6

ISLAMABAD: For ex-prime minister Imran Khan who was sent to jail after his conviction and subsequent disqualification in the Toshakhana case, the sentence in the Iddat case on Saturday was the third conviction in merely one week.

After a jail trial, senior civil judge Qudratullah sentenced the PTI leader and his spouse Bushra Bibi to seven years in jail, along with a Rs0.5 million fine each, for “contracting marriage during the ‘Iddat’ (period of waiting)” of the former first lady.

Bushra Bibi is incarcerated at the Banigala residence of Imran Khan following her conviction in the Toshakhana reference. The judge set aside the ‘nikah’ of Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi solemnised on January 1, 2018, as he announced the sentence under Section 496 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

“Whoever, dishonestly or with a fraudulent intention, goes through the ceremony of being married, knowing that he is not thereby lawfully married, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall be liable to fine,” the clause reads.

According to the court, the ‘nikah’ was solemnised during the “mandatory Iddat period” of Bushra Bibi. However, Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi are still in a “legitimate relationship” as the court ruled that the Feb 14, 2018, ‘nikah’ of the couple was legal.

‘Lodged to humiliate me’

Though the couple insisted that the ceremony held in Feb 2018 was merely a “dua (blessings)” for public affirmation, the court ruled it as a “valid nikah” on the basis of testimonies of cleric Mufti Saeed and Awn Chaudhry, once a close aide to Imran Khan. These prosecution witnesses testified that the first nikah was on Jan 1, 2018 and the second ceremony was held in Feb 2018. Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi also recorded their statements, saying they entered ‘nikah’ after the ‘Iddat’ had lapsed.

Mr Khan termed it a politically motivated case, instituted to hurt his dignity and repute. Bushra Bibi also claimed that her ex-husband Khawar Fareed Manika had already divorced her in April, but signed the divorce deed in November 2017. The couple requested the court to allow them to produce the witnesses in their defence.

The judge, on the other hand, termed the application seeking the same relief as delay tactics and rejected the request. Initially, Section 496-B was invoked in this case for alleged fornication. It was later dropped when the charges were framed.

During his testimony in the court, Mr Manika claimed that Mr Khan had an affair with his wife since 2014 and he was a “frequent visitor of his house”. He said he had repeatedly asked Bushra Bibi to avoid meeting Mr Khan but to no avail and as a last resort he divorced her but “with an intention of reconciliation during the Iddat”. According to Khawar Manika, the “untimely nikah” of Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi deprived him of availing the opportunity of reconciliation.

The court observed that the judgement of the apex court that defines the minimum Iddat period as 39 days was not “relevant in this particular case”. “The nutshell of the above discussion is that the complainant has been able to prove that the respondents [Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi] have gone through an unlawful marriage ceremony on Jan 1, 2018, with dishonest and fraudulent intention and as such has established the charge against the respondents for an offence within the meaning of section 496 PPC… [Both] are convicted under the provision of section 496 PPC and sentenced to simple imprisonment for a period of seven years each,” the 51-page verdict said.

Talking to the media persons at Adiala Jail, Mr Khan said that the case was lodged to humiliate him. He added that such cases could not deter him and he would not accept any ‘deal’ with the military establishment.

PTI denounces ruling

In a statement, the PTI denounced the verdict as contrary to ‘Sharia’ and said it was a “reprehensible attack” on the marriage and family laws and unethical interference in private affairs.

A PTI spokesperson alleged that the judge “removed the mask of honour, modesty, shame and civilisation from the face of the state and exposed its face before the [entire] world”.

After sentences in the cipher and Toshakhana references earlier this week, “the elements tried to push forward the agenda of hateful political revenge by convicting Imran Khan in the Iddat case through a premeditated and shameful verdict”, the former ruling party alleged.

The PTI said people would react on Feb 8 against injustices and inflict a “crushing defeat on the crooked and corrupt political leaders” in the general elections.

Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Price bombs
17 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

THERE was a time not too long ago when the faces we see sitting in government today would cry themselves hoarse over...
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
17 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

IT is no secret that visa applications to the UK and Schengen countries come at a high cost. But recent published...
After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...