ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Monday, summoned the notification related to the appointment of the judge of the Special Court for hearing the cypher case as well as the reports about the security threats to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

A division bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz heard PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s Intra-Court Appeals against his jail trial in the cypher case and appointment of the judge of the Special Court.

After issuing the directions, the bench deferred the proceedings until today (Tuesday). Besides this, the IHC also extended its stay orders in this matter, saying that “The operation of the order staying the proceedings in the trial is extended until the next date of hearing.”

During the hearing, the bench said to Imran Khan’s lawyer Salman Akram Raja that according to the attorney general’s documents, the process of the judge’s appointment started from the high court.

Salman said that Imran Khan’s judicial remand was granted in open court without producing him while PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi was presented in court.

The bench said the AGP showed some documents, including special reports and the capital city police chief’s letter. It added that a jail trial was decided due to security threats and said there was no mention of a death threat in the notification or in the special report of the Ministry of Interior.

Imran’s counsel adopted the stance that the notification mentioned general security concerns and that a notification for jail trial cannot be issued under Section 9. He maintained that under this section, the venue of the court can be changed, but not a jail trial’s. He further said that this is a case of the death penalty or life imprisonment; it should be strictly followed according to law.

Justice Rafat asked that if there were security concerns, what the government should do. The lawyer responded that the government should have placed this matter before the concerned judge.

He pointed that in his letter of October 2, the judge asked if there were any difficulties in presenting the suspect. He said that in other words, he is saying that he is ready for a jail trial if the prosecutors deem it fit. Raja said that the Law Ministry’s notification for a jail trial of October 29 is not correct and there is also some confusion about the purpose of the jail trial. “Is it because of security threats or to keep the public away because of its sensitive nature?” he questioned.

He alleged that the sole purpose of the jail trial was to make PTI Chairman Imran Khan disappear from the scene.

Justice Aurangzeb remarked that regardless, there are security threats to the petitioner. He directed, “You should first complete your arguments on whether the appeal is admissible.” He added, “The court wants to clear its mind about the maintainability of the case.”

The judge asked the attorney general if a report on the security threat was submitted to the trial court judge. The AGP replied in the negative. Justice Aurangzeb asked that on the basis of which material the trial court judge wrote the first letter and what information he had for writing the letter on the security threats. “Were reports shared with the judge?” he asked.

The AGP said that “this was common knowledge and the court was also aware of it.” He said the trial court judge also said that since there was no stay order, the proceedings would continue, adding the statements of three witnesses were being recorded at each hearing.

At this, Salman Akram said that all the proceedings in the trial court until November 15 were illegal saying that it was requested that even if a jail trial has to be conducted, at least the judge should be changed. He further said that this is a jail trial that even family members are not allowed to attend the proceedings and this has become an in-camera trial after barring the entry of all kinds of people.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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