The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday ordered a sessions court to make a decision in 10 days on pleas by PTI founder Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi for the suspension of their sentence in the iddat case.

IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb also ordered the sessions court to decide on their pleas against their convictions in the case in one month.

The couple were convicted by a senior civil judge on February 3 for contracting marriage during Bushra Bibi’s Iddat period. They were sentenced to seven years in jail with a fine of Rs500,000 each.

They challenged the conviction before district and sessions judge Shahrukh Arjumand, who recused himself at a time when the hearing had been concluded and the court was supposed to announce the verdict.

Subsequently, the case was transferred to Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Mohammad Afzal Majoka. However, the counsel for Bushra Bibi had filed a petition before the IHC seeking her release on bail and suspension of her sentence.

The registrar’s office raised some administrative objections to the petition because the petitioner was seeking the same relief from a sessions court.

While hearing the arguments of her counsel on the petition a day ago, Justice Aurangzeb had removed the administrative objections. He also remarked that the reason for which Judge Arjumand had recused himself was “not justified”.

The judge presided over a hearing today on Imran’s plea to send back the case from ADSJ Majoka to Judge Arjumand.

Advocate Salman Akram Raja — who appeared on behalf of the PTI founder — argued that there were two session judges in Islamabad but the case was transferred to an ADSJ.

He said that the case should be sent back to Judge Arjumand, who had a written verdict prepared, or the IHC itself should hear the appeals against the sentence, adding that if that was not possible then the case should be sent to a session judge, not an ADSJ.

“A time frame should also be fixed for sending [the case] to sessions judge West,” Raja said.

He said, after being questioned by the judge about what he required a time frame for, that a time frame should be provided to hear the appeal within the stipulated time.

The counsel for Khawar Maneka, Raja Rizwan Abbasi, said that the couple was convicted in the trial court for which an appeal was then heard by a session court.

He said his client had expressed no confidence which was dismissed but Judge Arjumand had subsequently recused himself after Maneka again expressed a lack of confidence.

Abbasi said the high court had then made a decision based on Judge Arjumand’s action, adding that a decision concerning the judicial side could not be decided by a single judge.

Justice Aurangzeb said that things were clarified in the judge’s order sheet and the IHC chief justice had decided upon the issue. “What will happen even if this case is returned,” he asked,

Abbasi requested the court to declare the application inadmissible.

The court ordered Judge Majoka to deliver an order in the case within 10 days on the pleas of suspension of sentence of the PTI founder and his spouse.

He also directed the judge to decide upon the primary appeals against the convictions within the month.

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