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Friday, April 19, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

This way or that way: Imran’s unprecedented hearing at SC

Imran took an unusually long time to arrive, and was led in through the Judge's gate
Imran Khan in Supreme Court on May 11. Photo via Twitter.
Imran Khan in Supreme Court on May 11. Photo via Twitter.

DSNGs in every colour lined up outside Police Lines in Islamabad as the Supreme Court’s deadline for presenting Imran Khan rapidly approached. Cameras rolling, reporters connected on the phone with their newsrooms, everyone excited and tense.

The inspector general of police, who was tasked with escorting Imran to SC, had reached Police Lines a few minutes after the SC order. Any minute now a convoy of vehicles would lead Imran Khan to the Supreme Court.

But the convoy never appeared.

The reporters, hiding their disappointment, told the agitated newsrooms on the other end of the line that Imran had left through a back gate. There were no visuals recorded.

Supreme Court’s 4:30 pm deadline was only 10 minutes away when screens flashed the news that Imran had departed. The Supreme Court is just over 16 km away from the police lines, so with sirens blaring and routes cleared the journey would take no more than a few minutes.

But once again, the convoy did not appear as expected.

One hour after the deadline had lapsed, the judges sat waiting at the Supreme Court. The National Accountability Bureau’s prosecutor had arrived as well. Outside, DSNGs in every colour lined up once again. A new set of reporters on the line, a different set of cameras rolling, all waiting for the convoy to appear.

Meanwhile, 1,200 police and Rangers personnel, an unusually high number, manned the Constitution Avenue outside the court. The police formed two queues outside the gate of the Supreme Court, a sort of corridor that would safely usher in Imran Khan when he appeared. Despite the court’s order, 40-50 energetic PTI supporters also made it to the road, but police held them away at the safe distance.

 Photo via AFP.
Photo via AFP.

Reports had said that out of the five entry points that lead to the Constitution Avenue, four had been blocked. Only the entrance from Margalla Road, to the north, was open and and the general presumption was that Imran would appear from here.

Meanwhile, a long line of army vehicles conveniently began a ‘Flag March’, menacingly prowling the Avenue from one side to the other.

Then, at 5:42 pm, one hour and twelve minutes past the deadline, the policemen lined up infront of the Supreme Court gate moved from their position. Reporters and cameras scrambled with them to their new position, the Judge’s gate.

Now, the Judge’s entrance is no thoroughfare and a petitioner’s entry from here is unprecedented. Exceptions have only been made for senior government personalities while they were in office.

A line of 12 vehicles then appeared. Sandwiched between pick-up trucks carrying Rangers personnel, a black Mercedes floated inside the judge’s gate. The windows to the backseat were covered. A reporter, Tikka Khan Sani, tried to appraoch the vehicle hoping to get a quote and was hit in the face by a ranger with a shield. No explanation was offered as to why a small journey took over an hour.

The IG himself led the way as Imran, dressed in all blue, hair sleeked back and sunglasses on, entered the building, with security men in black suits escorting him on all sides. A video shot during this walk was the first visual that made it out to the media.

At Courtroom Number 1’s entrance, a set of reporters once again waited to see Imran Khan. But there was another delay as Imran waited with the IG to get clearance for the best route to use.

There are three ways to get to courtroom number. Once again, Imran was brought from the one with no precedent of petitioner’s being brought, the one from the judge’s block, normally out of bounds to any lawyer or petitioner.

Routed and rerouted multiple times, Imran finally appeared in Courtroom Number 1 at 5:45 pm.

“Welcome, Imran Khan sahab,” Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said, “it’s good to see you!”

Reporting by Usman Muzzafar and Afzal Javed. Writing by Farhan Afsar.

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