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Sunday, June 16, 2024  
09 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Islamabad court rejects PTI petition to cancel Imran Khan’s arrest warrant

PTI chairman decides to appear in court on March 18
Former prime minister Imran Khan (C) leaves after appearing at the court in Islamabad on February 28, 2023. AFP
Former prime minister Imran Khan (C) leaves after appearing at the court in Islamabad on February 28, 2023. AFP

A district and sessions court in Islamabad rejected Imran Khan’s request for cancellation of warrants in the toshakhana case on Thursday.

The district and sessions court announced the verdict announced earlier in the day.

“We had a detailed discussion, the order will also come in detail,” Additional District and Sessions court judge Zafar Iqbal said. “I will leave after signing the order.”

The judge asked both parties to send a representative each. “There is no need of standing or sitting here. Don’t know when the order will be completed.”

Imran to appear in court on 18th

PTI Chairman Imran Khan has decided to appear in court on March 18.

“I will appear in court on March 18. I believe in the supremacy of law,” he told reporters.

Hearing resumes

When the hearing resumed, Imran’s lawyer Khawaja Haris and barrister Gohar arrived at the rostrum. The law officer of the Islamabad police also appeared in court.

The Election Commission of Pakistan’s lawyer urged the court to adjourn the hearing of the case till 2:30pm.

Imran’s lawyer Haris prayed to the court to suspend the arrest warrant after taking the undertaking. He supported his argument by quoting the IHC order, which according to him also says to take the decision after verifying the undertaking.

ADSJ Iqbal remarked that the matter was simple, however, it got complicated. “We want to cooperate with you until the limit of the arrest. Your security and other matters are important to us.”

Haris lamented whatever happened in Lahore, adding that the court has the right to suspend the arrest warrant. The high court has asked for giving a decision while taking the situation arising out after the warrant into consideration, he said.

Imran’s lawyer said that the IHC has not rejected their request and advised them to approach the trial court. The court asked the trial court to take the surety of the undertaking and bail. “We request that warrant must be suspended after taking the undertaking. The IHC has also ordered that.”

‘If Imran Khan still surrenders, I will order IG to not arrest him’

If Imran Khan still surrenders, then an order would be issued to the inspector general of police to not arrest him, Additional District and Sessions court judge Zafar Iqbal remarked during the hearing of the petition seeking suspension of an arrest warrant for the PTI chief.

The judge ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to appear in court by 12pm today (Thursday) before adjourning the proceedings.

Imran’s legal team approached the court after the district and sessions court re-issued the arrest warrants after Imran chose to skip the proceedings on March 14. It has directed the police to produce him before the court on March 18. The development had come when the court was hearing the ECP’s reference seeking criminal proceedings against Imran for concealing details of state gifts.

Imran’s lawyers Khawaja Haris, Faisal Chaudhry, and Babar Awan appeared in court on Thursday.

Hearing

At the outset of the hearing, Haris read out the Islamabad High Court’s decision (IHC) to uphold the warrant.

ADSJ Iqbal asked whether a notice should be sent to the ECP pertaining to the case. “The matter could be solved in a second. Where is Imran Khan? Where does Imran has appeared in court in a personal capacity? Where is the concept of undertaking?”

The district and sessions court has so far not received the IHC decision, he added.

The IHC refused on Tuesday to abolish warrants issued for Imran that have led to clashes between police and workers in Lahore. It also ordered the PTI to submit its affidavit guaranteeing Imran’s presence in court on March 18 in the sessions court.

“Is it necessary that Imran should be presented in court after arrest?” Haris asked.

“We want that Imran appears in court. Why he is not coming? What is the reason?” the judge asked and added that the PTI chairman has to assist the police, not “resist” them. “Imran created the scene after resisting it. The IHC order also says that the order should not be affected by illegal action.”

There would not have been any problem if it was a bailable arrest warrant, the judge remarked and reminded that the warrants were non-bailable. “The pieces of evidence which you are giving are related to the bailable arrest warrants. The surety has been received on the case.”

Imran’s counsel asked whether such strictness was maintained while issuing the non-bailable arrest warrants. To this, the judge remarked that it was issued for the PTI chief’s appearance in a personal capacity.

“Imran himself is saying that he wants to be in court. He is not seeking an exemption and wants to appear in court. Is a non-bailable warrant decision required at this time? You have two options as the petitioner wants to appear: firstly, cancel the non-bailable warrant by accepting the undertaking request. Secondly, issue a bailable arrest warrant after taking a surety. Imran Khan wants to give an undertaking that he would appear in the sessions court on March 18,” Haris said.

He urged the court to suspend the warrant issued for his client.

The judge remarked that an order should be given to the ECP. To this, Haris urged the court to issue a notice to the ECP and summon them today.

ADSJ Iqbal asked about the reason for the bad situation at Zaman Park, saying: “Imran’s warrant has become the most expensive not in Pakistan, but in the world.” He added that millions of rupees of government were spent on this and asked if should this happen.

Imran’s lawyer blamed the government for this and condemned the situation.

“As per law, the non-bailable arrest warrant can be implemented in any city. As per law, Imran was supposed to be directly brought to court. It is not possible to harass Imran on the court appearance,” the judge said.

The country, being poor, does not need to spend millions of rupees on the warrant, he said, adding: “If Imran Khan still surrenders, I will ask the inspector general to not arrest.”

The court asked why there was resistance since the warrants were issued according to law. There could have been a peaceful protest, it said and added that in cases related to proclaimed offenders, suspects appear in a personal capacity in court. “They appear and the warrants are cancelled. It is not like that the date of the warrant is March 18 and the police sit idle,” the court added.

Imran’s lawyer Haris said that there was no need for arrest warrants after the undertaking.

The judge said that he would ask the secretariat police to issue notice to the ECP. Later, ADSJ Iqbal ordered the court staff to ask the election commission to appear in court by 12pm.

The court adjourned the hearing by 12pm.

Toshakhana case

An Islamabad district and sessions court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran Khan over persistent absences in the Toshakhana case on February 28. Earlier, the court had twice deferred the former premier’s indictment on medical grounds.

Additional District and Sessions Court judge Zafar Iqbal had adjourned the hearing of the case till March 7.

The reference was filed by lawmakers from the ruling coalition, Pakistan Democratic Movement, last year. It alleges that Imran had not shared details of the state gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana (during his time as the prime minister) and proceeds from their reported sales.

The ECP concluded on October 21 that ex-PM Imran had made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts.

The Toshakhana is a department under the Cabinet Division that stores gifts given to rulers and government officials by heads of other governments and foreign dignitaries. According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

The country’s top electoral authority’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

“He is for the time being disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or of a Provincial Assembly under any law for the time being in force,” said the law which falls under the Disqualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

Later, the ECP approached the Islamabad district and session the court with a copy of the reference. It sought proceedings against Imran under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the state gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his time as the prime minister.

More to follow

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