LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court on Monday extended till Feb 24 the pre-arrest bail of former prime minister Imran Khan in seven cases related to May 9 riots.

The court extended the bail without any progress in the proceedings of the cases as the attendance of the imprisoned Pakistan Teherreek-i-Insaf (PTI) founder could not be marked from Adiala Jail on a video link.

Khan’s counsel Barrister Salman Safdar asked the court to mark the attendance of the petitioner by making a video call on Whatsapp number of the jail’s superintendent.

He reiterated his request of personally summoning the PTI founder, if marking his attendance was not possible on video link.

He said the Lahore High Court in its Jan 23 order directed the trial court to decide the bail petitions by Feb 6. He said a contempt petition would be filed before the high court if attendance of Imran Khan is not marked through video link at the next hearing.

Judge Arshad Javed adjourned the hearing till Feb 24 after the jail superintendent assured the court’s staff, in a telephonic conversation, of marking the attendance of Khan on a Whatsapp video call at the next hearing.

An ATC had on Aug 11, 2023, dismissed the pre-arrest bails of Khan over his non-appearance as he was jailed following his conviction in Toshakhana case.

Later, the LHC, on a petition of Khan, set aside the decision of the ATC and restored his bail petitions. The high court directed the trial court to decide the bail petitions afresh on merits.

The bail petitions were filed in cases of attacks on Jinnah House, Askari Tower, Shadman police station, burning of the PML-N offices in Model Town and a container at Kalma Chowk.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2024

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