An Islamabad district and sessions court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on petitions requesting suspension of sentences given to former premier Imran Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi in the iddat case.

On Friday, while resuming the hearing for pleas seeking suspension of sentences, additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) Afzal Majoka asked Zahid Asif — the counsel for Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband, Khawar Fareed Maneka — to conclude his arguments on the applications by June 25 as the court would then take up the main appeals against their convictions.

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.

Separately, the Islamabad High Court had ordered the sessions court to decide in 10 days on pleas by PTI founder and his wif.e

The judgment was widely criticised by civil society, women activists and lawyers for being a “blow to women’s right to dignity and privacy”. Activists had protested in Islamabad against the verdict while a Karachi demonstration against the “state’s intrusion into people’s private lives” had also denounced it.

While hearing the case today, Imran’s lawyer Salman Safdar argued that the case would have been significant if it had been filed on time.

“There is a timeframe for every appeal but here the case was filed six years and 2,000 days later,” Safdar argued, adding that there was no judicial reference for the delay.

He said that since the appellant was a woman, there was a strong justification for the suspension of the sentence.

“The appellant is the mother of five children,” he said.

Safdar also argued that the charges were framed in the absence of Bushra Bibi.

Maneka’s lawyer Zahid Asif argued that the appellant was present in the case when she was indicted, however, she had walked out after that.

Judge Majoka asked Asif why a timely appeal was not filed.

“Was the complainant pressured or threatened [into filing],” Majoka asked.

“Decent people try not to make their family matters public,” Asif replied.

Judge Majoka reserved the verdict after hearing the arguments from both sides.

The verdict will be announced on June 27 at 3pm.

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