IK’s bail petition in cipher case: IHC asks FIA to file plea if it wants court proceedings in camera
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to move an application if it wanted the public to be excluded from the hearing of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s post-arrest bail petition in the cipher case.
A single bench of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, on Tuesday, issued a two-page written order on the prosecution’s request seeking in-camera proceedings of the case. The FIA has requested the court for an in-camera hearing, citing “privileged” and “sensitive” documents and information as a reason.
The order said: “Section 14 of the Official Secret Act, 1923 permits exclusion of the public from the proceedings, however, the reading of the section shows that if such is to be undertaken, the prosecution has to make an application.”
“In case, the prosecution is interested that the public be excluded from the proceedings of instant case, it may move an application.”At the very outset of the hearing, the special prosecutors for the FIA submitted that proceedings of the instant bail application be held in-camera, as there are documents and information which is privileged and sensitive. He also contended that when the bail application before the trial court was argued, the public was isolated, however, conceded that the petitioner argued its case in open court.
Counsel for the petitioner submitted that he has no objection if unnecessary people are excluded.
Earlier, the bench had reserved its verdict on whether to hold in-camera proceedings in Imran’s petition seeking his post-arrest bail in the cipher case. During the hearing, lawyers, Salman Safdar, Niazullah Niazi, and Ali Bukhari, among others, appeared as the PTI chief’s counsels. Special prosecutors, Zulfikar Naqvi and Shah Khawar also appeared before the court.
Khawar contended before the court that “there were a lot of things that could not be made public before the court.” He said that the Official Secrets Act mandated that the hearing be held in-camera. At this, Justice Farooq noted the matter was not of a criminal appeal but rather a bail petition. Khawar then informed the court that the Challan of the cypher case would be ready in a few days.
Barrister Safdar argued that the special court judge had held the hearing at the Attock jail due to security reasons, and not due to it being mandated by the Secrets Act.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023