Tuesday Jan 31, 2023
A banking court in Islamabad on Tuesday extended the interim bail of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan till February 15 in the prohibited funding case being pursued against his party.
During the course of the proceedings, Khan’s counsel pleaded with the court to allow his client to attend the hearing via video link citing his injuries. The court, however, turned down the plea and ordered the deposed prime minister — who was removed from power last April — to ensure his in-person appearance at the next hearing.
The court also warned the PTI chief’s interim bail would be cancelled if he failed to appear before the court on February 15.
Earlier, the banking court fixed February 10 as the date for the next hearing, however, the date was extended at the request of Khan and other co-suspects in the case.
At the last hearing on January 5, the court directed Khan to ensure his presence before the investigation officer (IO) in the case.
In the bail plea, the PTI chief’s lawyers had urged the court to stop the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from arresting Khan in the case pertaining to financial irregularities in the party’s funding.
At the outset of the hearing, Special Prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi requested the court to reject the former premier's plea, while the petitioner's lawyer asked the court to give a two-week extension on medical grounds.
Khan's lawyer also requested an exemption for the PTI chief to appear before the court for that day’s hearing.
The prosecutor maintained that the former PM has been politically active since the assassination bid on his life during PTI's long march rally in Wazirabad in November.
"He is running the political affairs but doesn't appear in the court," Abbasi said while requesting the court to reject his plea for exemption.
He claimed that the PTI leader neither appeared in the court nor joined the probe, asking the court to tell the investigation officer to visit the PTI chief at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
When asked about the reason for Khan's absence from investigations, his lawyer said that there were many reasons he couldn't appear before the investigation officer despite "his willingness".
He said that Khan was injured in an assassination bid and he would appear before IO as soon as the doctors allow him.
At this, prosecutor Abbasi maintained that the investigation officer could not go to Lahore for interrogation.
"Imran Khan appears on TV but not in the courts," Rizwan said while requesting the court to take back the decision of Khan's interim bail.
Judge Rakhshanda Shaheen turned down the request by Khan's lawyer to interrogate the former premier at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
"The investigation officer can hold investigations wherever and however he wants, the court will not interfere," the judge remarked.
She directed Khan to join the probe to ensure his presence before the IO under any circumstances and adjourned the hearing till January 31.