LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has dismissed a Punjab government reference against the presiding judge of a Rawalpindi antiterrorism court whom the latter accused of favouring PTI founding chairman Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, incarcerated in Adiala jail.

“The prosecution department has been informed by the high court about the dismissal of the reference,” Prosecutor General of Punjab Syed Farhad Ali Shah told Dawn.

However, he said, the prosecution had not so far received a written decision of the reference.

The Punjab prisons department had filed the reference through the prosecution department leveling multiple charges, including showing sympathetic treatment to PTI’s jailed leaders, against ATC Judge Malik Ejaz Asif.

The reference stated the judge visited Imran Khan’s cell in Adiala jail on March 25.

It alleged that the judge asked Imran Khan to tell him anything he can do for him.

The PTI founding chairman asked for a refrigerator and the judge advised him to write an application and also ordered to acquire the same from Mr Qureshi.

Later, the applications of both jailed leaders were allowed without issuing a prior notice to the prosecution, alleged the reference.

Judge Asif seized several cases of May 9 riots registered against the PTI leadership and workers in Rawalpindi. He conducted jail proceedings in cases involving PTI’s incarcerated leaders.

The reference also accused the judge and his court staff of misbehaving with the prison officials on ensuring security protocols for the visitors.

It said, the next day, the judge humiliated four prison officials in the court as they were ordered to remove their belts, shoes and socks.

The reference narrated repeated episodes of humiliation meted out to the prisons officials at the hands of the judge.

The prosecution argued that the special judge has no authority to visit the jail and meet any inmate. It said a sessions judge of a district is competent to visit jails in his jurisdiction.

The directorate of district judiciary at the LHC takes up references/complaints against the judicial officers of the province.

District & Sessions Judge Abher Gul Khan is the director general of the department, which dismissed the reference against the ATC Rawalpindi judge.

The other day, LHC Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan also dismissed a Punjab government petition for transferring the May 9 cases from the court of Judge Asif to another.

The chief justice also imposed a cost of Rs200,000 on the government in each case, which the government sought to be transferred.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2024

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