ISLAMABAD: Founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi challenged their sentences in cypher and Toshakhana cases in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Imran Khan along with his wife, Bushra Bibi, on Friday, filed two appeals, writ petitions and applications in the IHC through their lead counsel Barrister Syed Ali Zafar. In these filings, the orders passed by the Special Judge and the NAB during the jail trials of Imran Khan and his wife in Toshkhana and cypher case proceedings have been challenged.

PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi also filed a petition against his conviction in the cypher case.

Barrister Zafar has argued that both, Imran Khan and his wife, were subjected to sham trial where the Courts were proceeding not only unfairly and with undue haste but also ignoring the very basic fundamental right of fair trial and due process.

Ali Zafar stated in the petition that the appellant along with the co-accused, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, faced trial in Case FIR No06/23 dated 15.08.2023 (“Cypher Case”) under Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, read with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860.

The appellant was arrested on 15.08.2023 and is aggrieved with the conviction and sentence awarded in the instant case through judgment dated 30.01.2024 passed by Special Judge (Official Secrets Act, 1923), Islamabad.

He adopted the stance that in this case, the prosecution improperly documented evidence in violation of the mandatory provisions outlined in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898, and despite the repeated objections raised by the appellant, the trial court refrained from intervening.

Imran’s counsel stated that vide order dated 16.01.2024 and reiterated in subsequent orders passed by the Special Judge, it was clarified that the examination-in-chief of PWs would be conducted first in one stretch, and the cross-examination would be, conducted at a second stage after their examination-in-chief was concluded.

He added that the proceedings were hurried through by the court at breakneck speed for reasons known only to the Court itself, and in five daily hearing, evidence of 25 PWs was recorded.

He mentioned that during all this time from 15.01. 2024 to 23.01.2024 and even throughout the trial, the appellant and appellant’s lawyers never created any hurdle in the dispensation of justice and conclusion of the trial and there was, therefore, no reason for the Court to later on take extreme illegal steps to remove the appellant lawyers from the proceedings.

The counsel added that the defence counsel was appointed at state expense Malik Abdul Rehman, Advocate High Court, who was a member of the prosecution team in this very case and a number of times attended the case with the special prosecutor namely, Raja RizwanAbbasi and this fact was also agitated before the court but the court paid no heed to this illegality also.

Ali Zafar contended in these appeals that Imran Khan and his wife have been erroneously convicted and sentenced by the Accountability Court and the Special Judge and their freedom and liberty have been curtailed in a brazen violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. The evidence presented against them is deficient in every manner and simply fails to connect them with the alleged charges.

The appeals further pointed out that while passing their respective judgements both, the NAB Authorities and Special Judge, have caused grave injustice upon the aggrieved as first, their trials in both cases were concluded in a matter of two to three weeks. Second, when the IHC had directed the authorities to conduct an open trial yet public, media etc were not allowed to witness the trial freely and instead proceedings were carried out secretly and surreptitiously by also changing the courtrooms without the information of the aggrieved and their counsels.

He added that third, the judgements are illegal and unconstitutional because the rights of Imran Khan and his wife of a fair trial under Article 10A of the Constitution were infringed when their trials were concluded with undue haste as if they had to be concluded before the date of general elections on 08/02/2024.

It was further contended by Barrister Zafar that during the jail trials both, Imran Khan and his wife were not allowed to produce evidence in defence as their right to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses (which included among others the most instrumental witness, Azam Khan) was illegally and unlawfully closed and their lawyers were illegally replaced with the court-appointed state counsels which were in fact picked up from the team of prosecution lawyers. Similarly, the Section 342 CrPC statement of Imran Khan was not recorded nor his lawyers were allowed to present their concluding arguments.

Therefore, he prayed that the judgements passed by the NAB authorities and Special Judge in jail trials of Toshakhana and cypher cases be set aside, they be acquitted from charges and their sentence and conviction may be suspended.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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