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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday barred the authorities from arresting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan until August 9 regarding the murder of a senior lawyer in Quetta.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Yahya Afridi, and comprising Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Musarrat Hilali, on Monday, heard the former prime minister’s appeal against the order of a division bench of the Balochistan High Court (BHC). The PTI chief had moved the apex court against his nomination in the murder case of Shar.

Imran Khan in pursuance of the Court’s direction appeared before the bench along with his lawyers.

During the proceeding, the prosecutor general Balochistan asked the Court to instruct the former premier to appear before a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted to investigate the lawyer’s murder. However, Justice Afridi said the court would not issue such an order at this stage.

“On what grounds do you wish to include the PTI chairman in the investigation,” asked Justice Naqvi. The advocate general said the FIR justified the PTI chief’s inclusion in the probe.

The bench while rejecting the Balochistan government’s request also turned down Imran’s plea for adjourning the hearing to a later date. Justice Afridi remarked that the investigation report in the case had been submitted and the court had to examine the facts.

Justice Hilali observed that the petitioner has challenged the contents of the FIR. The petitioner’s lawyer Latif Khosa said that the JIT is controversial, and “we do not accept it”.

A division bench of the BHC comprising Chief Justice Naeem Afghan and Justice Aamir Nawaz Rana on 15-06-23 had dismissed the PTI chief’s application to quash an FIR registered on the complaint of the slain lawyer’s son. In the FIR Imran Khan was nominated regarding the assassination of Shar.

Shar was shot dead by unidentified assailants near Alamo Chowk on Airport Road on June 06, this year. According to the police, the senior Supreme Court lawyer received 15 bullet injuries on his body and died on the spot. Two days later, the police booked Imran Khan in the case on the complaint of the lawyer’s son.

The murdered lawyer, Shar, had filed a constitutional petition against the former PM in the BHC, seeking proceedings against the former premier under Article 6 (high treason) of the Constitution.

Earlier, the IGP Balochistan submitted the investigation report of Shar’s murder case to the court, which stated that according to the FIR, the victim was being threatened for filing a petition under Article 6 against Imran.

The report stated that during the investigation, a seven-member JIT was formed by the Ministry of Interior on June 8. Since then, eight meetings of the JIT have been held under the chairmanship of the DIG CTD.

The JIT had decided to investigate four individuals on the matter, one of which was the PTI chief, the report revealed. Summons notices were sent to the deposed premier on June 19 in this regard.

According to the document submitted the statements of the deceased’s wife and two brothers have also been recorded. However, to date, Imran has not participated in the investigation despite the authorities having sent him several notices. Investigation of the case is still ongoing, the police report added.

The bench; however, prevented the police from carrying out the PTI chief’s arrest in the matter and postponed the proceedings until August 9.

The PTI chief was surrounded by the journalists in the courtroom.

He was asked about the possibility of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar being appointed the caretaker prime minister, to which he retorted: “There can be no bigger joke than that.”

He was questioned whether anyone had made any “backdoor contact”, to which he responded in the negative. One journalist asked about his “expectations” from the SC, Imran said: “I expect justice from the Supreme Court.”

As for his expectations from Chief Justice-designate Qazi Faez Isa, Imran paused for a moment before saying, “Let’s see what happens.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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