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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the jail sentence of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and ordered to release him on bail in Toshakhana reference.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq MehmoodJahangiri, on Tuesday, announced the verdict which it had reserved a day ago (Monday) after hearing the arguments of both sides.

In a nine-page order, the court ruled; “The sentence involved in the instant matter is short, hence we feel that the applicant is entitled to the suspension of sentence and be released on bail.”

Imran’s Toshakhana sentence suspended, but former PM to remain in jail for cipher trial

However, a special court recently established to hear cases under the Official Secrets Act has directed the Attock Jail authorities — where the former premier is incarcerated — to keep Imran in “judicial lockup” and produce him on August 30 in connection with the cipher case.

Imran Khan’s legal team also filed a petition to the IHC seeking to stop the arrest of the former prime minister in any other case. The petition had named the NAB, the FIA, and the police as respondents in the case.

The IHC’s order stated that the arguments raised by both sides as to the jurisdiction and other issues “involve deeper appreciation of the matter which at the stage of suspension is not warranted, especially, where the sentence is a short one, hence though lengthy arguments were address by the parties such questions are not decided and are left to be decided at the stage when the appeal is taken up for adjudication.”

The court stated that in the criminal complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under Section 190 of the Act, the sentence awarded by the trial court to the applicant qualifies as a short sentence. It mentioned that undoubtedly, the Supreme Court of Pakistan in The State v. Oaim Ali Shah (1992 SCMR 2192) has held that “it is not necessary that in every case the sentence is to be suspended and the discretion vests with the High Court to grant or refuse bail.”

It, however, noted that in the referred judgment, the Supreme Court emphasized that the discretion must be, like all other discretions, exercised upon sound judicial principles. “Keeping in view the referred dictum it is also noted and observed that the sentence of three years generally is regarded as a short sentence and where such is the case the discretion is exercised in favour of the applicant by way of suspension of sentence,” maintained the IHC bench.

The IHC bench observed that the petitioner’s counsel Sardar Latif Khan Khosa was correct in pointing out that in terms of the dictum of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Chairman NAB v. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (PLD 2019 SC 445) the Supreme Court of Pakistan has deprecated the practice of lengthy judgments in suspension matters. It added that similar observations were made by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Soba Khan v. The State (2016 SCMR 1325).

It continued, “the instant application is allowed and the sentence awarded by the trial court vide judgment dated 05.08.2023 is suspended; consequently, the applicant is ordered to be released on bail in the instant matter subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs100,000/- with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction the /Deputy Registrar (Judicial) of this Court.”

The Additional Sessions Judge, Islamabad, HamayunDilawar, on 05-08-23 had awarded three-year imprisonment to Imran Khan in Toshakhana reference. The judge had also imposed Rs100,000 fine or in default thereof to six months in jail. He convicted the PTI chief under Section 174 of the Election Act, 2017.

Imran Khan was tried in the reference filed by the District Election Commissioner, Islamabad under Section 190 of the Elections Act, 2017 with respect to offences under Sections 167 and 173 of the Act.

Imran had filed an appeal before the IHC against his conviction. He had also approached the Supreme Court (SC) against the IHC’s decision to remand the case back to the trial court judge who had convicted him.

Last week, however, the SC had acknowledged “procedural defects” in Imran’s conviction but had opted to wait for the IHC’s decision on Imran’s plea. The court’s observations had drawn the ire of the Pakistan Bar Council, which said there should be no “interference” in matters pending before the subordinate judiciary.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Shahid Khan Aug 30, 2023 09:42am
Nothing is going to happen. He was not in jail for corruption but due to other factors
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