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LAHORE: A full bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday barred the Punjab police from harassing Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan and directed the law enforcement agencies to treat him in accordance with the law.

The bench issued these directions while proceedings with a petition of Imran Khan praying to restrain authorities from arresting him on the basis of an “undisclosed” First Information Report (FIR) and launching a police operation at his Zaman Park residence during the Eid holidays.

The bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, Justice Aalia Neelum, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, Justice Anwarul Haq Pannun and Justice Muhammad Amjad Rafiq and adjourned the proceedings till May 02 and held that any operation under the law could not be stopped.

FIRs registered across country: IK moves LHC

Earlier counsel of Imran told the court that cases were being lodged against his client one after the other.

Eighty cases have been registered against him in Punjab only, he said and added, “Courts can look into the ill-use of authority by police”. He also said, “We want the bench to do the same in this matter too”.

At this, Justice Najafi referring to three days long police action outside Zaman Park last month said he had expressed displeasure over the situation.

The counsel also told the court that his client had received credible information regarding another operation outside Zaman Park during the Eid holidays.

“Give us relief for five days,” he urged, saying that “for five days the doors of the court will be closed”.

They would not be able to approach the court during the holidays. At this Justice Najafi replied, “The doors of justice are never closed”.

The law officer also contended that he had no information about any such action.

He asked, the PTI chief to present any evidence before the court supporting his claim.

He said, “The law is equal for everyone” and added this petition has been filed merely on the basis of concerns”.

He also pointed out that there was nothing on record regarding an operation and added that the law would take its course if a criminal act was done.

“Can you give a statement that no action will be taken against Imran in old cases registered against him,” Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh asked, to which the law officer replied that action in cases, in which legal proceedings were under way, would continue.

“Let’s ask the same question from you in another way, will you let Imran to celebrate Eid at home?” Justice Ali Baqar Najafi inquired.

Sarwar replied that a joint investigation team had been formed to probe cases against Imran and it could not be stopped from working.

Justice Neelum, here said, “You cannot even touch the petitioner if he is on bail”, and added we are not asking you to stop any legal proceedings.”

The law officer at this assured the court that legal proceedings could not be resumed in cases in which bail had been granted and added, the police would only act as per the law.

Justice Neelum at this stressed, “We are saying the same that nothing against the law should be done”.

Justice Amjad Rafiq also said that investigation in a case could be halted if there was no fear regarding the suspect absconding. The law officer at this said “This authority lies with the investigation officer only”.

At one point, the PTI chief came to the rostrum and said that he hadn’t broken a single law in his life yet hundreds of cases had been registered against him.

Justice Najafi at this said, “Khan Sahib, we have already heard these things, say something new”.

Imran then stated that the Punjab police had attacked his house before when he went to appear before Islamabad court, even after Justice Saleem Sheikh had restraint them.

“Sir, has this ever happened before? My house was attacked for 26 hours,” Imran recalled and added it is confirmed that the police will attack Zaman Park residence again.

However, Justice Najafi remarked that “We don’t think an operation will take place in the next five to six days”.

The law officer at this said, “Whatever happens, if it does, will be as per the law”, to which Justice Neelum said that such statements increased the concerns of the petitioner.

The court after hearing both the sides at length restrained police from “harassing” Imran. The proceedings have been adjourned till May 2.

The PTI chief contended in his petition that the “malice and ulterior motives” of the Punjab police were evident from the fact that more than 140 cases had been registered against him.

He stated that the series of complaints registered against the complainant demonstrated the “hidden agenda of undue harassment and political victimisation”.

He said that the senior leadership of the PTI had been subjected to “physical torture, unlawful arrests and undue harassment” by the law enforcement agencies.

Imran stated that recent statements of spokesperson of the government on social and print media also showed the “mischievous agenda of political victimisation”.

He highlighting the “highly objectionable” behaviour of the Federal Investigation Agency, National Accountability Bureau and Punjab police stressed that such “abuse of authority” required the interference of the court.

The petitioner also expressed his serious concerns about the threat to his life and withdrawal of security to which he is otherwise entitled being the former prime minister of Pakistan.

He; therefore, prayed to the court to issued a strict order to retrain the respondents from launching a police operation or affecting a straightaway arrest in any undisclosed FIR.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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