ISLAMABAD: As the Islamabad High Court took up the PTI founder’s appeal against the conviction in the cipher case, the counsel representing former prime minister Imran Khan said the inquiry in the case was started bef­ore the complaint regarding the offence was registered.

Barrister Salman Saf­dar argued before the division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Far­ooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb on Tuesday.

He said the Ministry of Interior filed the complaint before the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under Section 33 of the Official Secrets Act on October 12, 2022. The investigation officer during the cross-examination, however, stated that he was entrusted the inquiry in the case on Oct 5, almost a week before the registration of the complaint, said the lawyer.

CJ Farooq inquired about the mechanism and procedure adopted by the FIA and sought documentary evidence from the counsel. Justice Auran­gzeb asked about the reason for the initiation of the probe under the secrets law. Barrister Safdar responded that the federal cabinet referred the inquiry to the FIA but the foundation of the inquiry was flawed.

The defence counsel argued that the trial in the cipher case continued till late hours and the judge, without giving ample opportunity for defence, concluded the trial in haste.

He argued that the trial court judge appointed two state counsels as prosecutors despite the fact that the defence counsels were fully cooperating with the court.

The court perused the orders of the trial court, with Justice Aurangzeb saying that the court would compare the assertions made by the counsel with the conduct of the defence team.

The judge also inquired about the process adopted for the appointment of the state counsels.

The court was told by Imran’s lawyer that the trial court judge had sent an email to the Islamabad advocate general and the latter forwarded a list of proposed prosecutors.

The bench summoned the advocate general and adjourned further hearing till Wednesday (today).

Imran acquitted in two FIRs

Judicial Magistrate Shaista Kundi on Tuesday acquitted former prime minister Imran Khan in two cases registered against him in connection with violence during the May 2022 long march.

These FIRs were registered in the Sihala and Lohi Bher police stations of the federal capital.

The counsel said Mr Khan was booked in a number of cases in connection with the long march and for the violation of Section 144 but there was no notification in the field banning public gatherings at that time.

The counsel informed the judge that Mr Khan had already been acquitted in similar cases as well. After hearing the arguments, the court reserved the order for a while and later acquitted Imran Khan.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2024

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