ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Wednesday, reinstated Imran Khan’s bail right in the Toshakhana case while it disposed of his petition in the £190 million case.

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri announced the reserved verdict in this matter.

The IHC bench restored Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman’s right of bail in the Toshakhana case while it dismissed his petition seeking the same in the £190 million settlement case on grounds that he had already been arrested in it.

The court also turned down the bail petition of PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case.

The court dismissed the pre-arrest bail application in the £190 million case as the arrest had already been executed, leading to the application’s disposal.

In this regard, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had raised objections to the pleas in the IHC for restoring the bail applications of the PTI chief in the Toshakhana investigation and the £190 million scam case.

Imran’s bail application was dismissed by an accountability court for not appearing in the court. In his petition, Imran contended that since he was under arrest at that time; therefore, he could not appear in the court in person. He requested the court to reinstate his bail application.

Deputy NAB Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi raised the objection that bail applications could not be restored under the NAB Ordinance.

Meanwhile, another IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer turned down the bail petition of PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq announced the reserved verdict. The court had earlier reserved the judgment after hearing both sides.

The court noted in the verdict, “The instant petition is without merit and is accordingly dismissed; however, learned Trial Court is directed to conclude the trial within four (04) weeks from the date of receipt of this Order.

In this matter, the petitioner, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi sought bail after arrest in case FIR No.06/2023, dated 15.08.23, under sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, read with section 34 PPC, Police Station CTW/ FIA, Islamabad.

Case of the prosecution against the petitioner is that the petitioner along with the co-accused, namely, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, unauthorisedly communicated the contents of the classified document, i.e., cipher received from Parep Washington with unauthorised persons, i.e., public at large. It is also alleged in the afore-noted case against the petitioner that on 28.03.2022, a meeting was convened at Bani Gala, Islamabad, wherein, a conspiracy was hatched to divulge the contents of the cipher for political advantage.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that allegations against the petitioner are that he wrongfully communicated the contents of the cipher; that the information with respect to official secret document was passed on.

It was contended that there is nothing on record to establish that the petitioner divulged the contents of the cipher to the public at large; hence, provisions of sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, do not apply to him. It was stated that the case of the prosecution hinges upon statements of Muhammad Azam Khan under sections 161 CrPC and 164 CrPC and it is trite law that statement of co-accused is not sufficient to implicate and/ or is a proof against other accused persons.

The IHC bench stated that the principal accusation is against Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi (for commission of offence under section 5 (1) (a) of the Official Secrets Act, 1923) and the bail application of Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi was dismissed by this Court on 16.10.2023; the case of the petitioner is inextricably connected with the referred co-accused.

It noted, “Undoubtedly, bail ought not to be held as punishment but where sentence involved is death or life imprisonment, the Court has to proceed with caution; in this regard, the balance is to be maintained that liberty of a person ought not be compromised but gravity of charge or allegation is also to be kept in view.

The suitable balance can be achieved where trial has already commenced by way of appropriate direction to the trial Court to conclude the trial expeditiously.”

It mentioned that the petitioner also has sought immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution; for ease of convenience, the relevant provision of the Constitution is reproduced below:- “Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc., 248. (1) The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions: Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a Province.”

The bench added, “Bare reading of Article 248 of the Constitution shows that immunity is not extended to the case of petitioner as it is only applicable where any allegation in criminality levelled with respect to performance of official duty but in the instant case allegation against the petitioner is that his words in the public gathering/ jalsa on 27.03.2023 amounted to aiding, abetting and inciting the co accused to divulge the contents of the cipher.”

“The referred act does not fall within the ambit of official duty; clause 55 (4) of the Rules of Business, 1973 also is not attracted in the facts and circumstances. Insofar as jail trial or providing of documents is concerned, that is subject matter of Crl. Revision No.155/2023 and Crl. Revision No.170/2023, hence to allude to referred issues in bail would not be appropriate,” maintained the bench.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Parvez Nov 16, 2023 12:23pm
The IHC is a champion of legal jugglery and extending the legal process so that justice is delayed or denied. Sadly all this is happening under the very nose of SC CJ Issa.
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