IHC orders removal of ATA sections from terror case against Imran Khan

Awais Yousafzai
PTI Chairman Imran Khan attends partys telethon to raise funds for flood affectees. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti
PTI Chairman Imran Khan attends party's telethon to raise funds for flood affectees. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti

  • Verdict over plea for dismissal of terror case against Imran Khan announced.
  • IHC says lodging such cases over speeches would open a floodgate.
  • Says sections of ATA have been misused in past.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered the authorities to remove sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) from the case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan for threatening a female judge, while announcing the verdict on plea seeking dismissal of case.

A two-member bench, headed by IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah had reserved the verdict on Imran Khan's plea earlier in the day.

Khan was booked in a case under sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ACT) for making threatening remarks against an additional sessions judge and senior officials of the Islamabad Police in his speech at a rally.

The party had moved the IHC to grant Khan transit bail, but the court had directed the former premier to approach an ATC as it was a terror case.

The FIR registered against Khan states that he threatened Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry and police officers at a rally in F-9 Park to “terrorise” police officials and the judiciary.

The main aim was to prevent the police officers and judiciary from carrying out their legal obligations, states the FIR. The FIR was registered on the complaint of Magistrate Ali Javed at Islamabad's Margalla Police Station under Section 7 of ATA.

Today's hearing

At the outset of the hearing, IHC CJ Minallah inquired about the views given by the joint investigation team (JIT) at the outset of the hearing.

Responding to the question, special prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi maintained that the JIT is of the view that the ATA sections are applicable to the former premier's statement.

However, Imran Khan's lawyer opposed the argument, saying that there are some basic factors required to warrant terrorism charges and that these factors were absent in the case.

"A terror case can be lodged for creating an atmosphere of fear and terror, not on the possibility of creation of such an atmosphere," he said.

He said that Imran Khan spoke about taking legal action and lodging a case against an IG and DIG, contending that the individuals concerned should have filed the case.

He said a "mastermind" was behind this computerised complaint against Imran Khan that has been written with patience.

Abbasi read the controversial bits of Imran Khan's speech in court over IHC CJ Minallah's directive.

"Is that all or is there something else that is controversial? It would open a floodgate if you lodge such cases over speeches," the justice said.

He said that sections of the ATA have been misused in the past.

"Prima facie, not a single section included in the case is applicable [to Imran Khan's speech]," the court observed.

While partially accepting Imran Khan's plea for the dismissal of terror case against him, the court quashed the terror charges and directed to transfer the case to a relevant court under the remaining sections in the FIR.