Friday, March 24, 2023
LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday secured a three-day extension in protective bail till March 27 in five cases registered against him in the federal capital after he personnally appeared before the Lahore High Court (LHC).
Khan — who was ousted in April last year via a no-confidence motion — arrived at the LHC in tight security as a two-member special bench, comprising Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Justice Anwaar Hussain heard the plea regarding an extension in the protective bail.
Last week, Khan secured protective bail in eight terrorism cases and one civil case — a total of nine — after he appeared before the court in person. For the five cases in Islamabad, the court granted bail to Khan till March 24 and for the three cases in Lahore, he received bail for 10 days (March 27).
The verdict today was announced minutes after the PTI submitted an affidavit that a bail petition has been submitted in Islamabad.
Following the court's order, the PTI chief's counsel submitted the affidavit stating that his client's bail pleas have been submitted in the Islamabad courts.
After the submission, the court asked the prosecutor whether he wanted to say something. The prosecutor said that he did not have anything to add.
Justice Sheikh said that the court is extending the relief granted to the petitioner as his cases are pending in the Islamabad courts. "If you [Khan] do not get bail there, then you will face the consequences of submitting a fake affidavit."
He also warned the PTI chief's counsel that submitting a fake affidavit was tantamount to contempt of court.
Earlier today, LHC Registrar’s Office had attached objections to the plea as the PTI chief had already obtained bail in the cases.
As the hearing began, Khan’s counsel told the judges that the former premier was seeking protective bail in order to go to the federal capital where several political cases have been registered against him.
At this, Justice Sheikh said that no such precedence can be pointed out when protective bail is extended.
Khan’s lawyer argued that the legal team was also struggling to understand how to secure bail as so many cases have been registered against the deposed prime minister.
Justice Sheikh said that it would have been better if this petition would have been registered in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Arguing for himself, Khan said that the last time when he went to Islamabad, all roads were blocked, mentioning that even today he came in secretly.
“In Islamabad, police used tear gas and baton-charged the people due to which we had to return,” the cricketer-turned-politician said, claiming that he "ran from there" in order to save his life.
Last week, security forces and Khan’s supporters clashed near his home — when the police raided his Zaman Park residence — and on his way to the Islamabad High Court. Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds trying to block the former prime minister’s arrest.
Khan’s counsel told the court that they are only seeking a working day so that they can reach Islamabad; however, the government’s lawyer raised an objection to this.
After hearing the arguments, the two-member bench directed the office to fix Khan’s petition, adjourning the hearing till then.
Once the hearing resumed following the court’s direction to fix the petition, Khan’s counsel acknowledged that they know this plea was "extraordinary" as they are seeking an extension in the protective bail.
“We have a strong ground,” the lawyers said, at which Justice Sheikh directed them to narrate the incidents that took place since the last hearing on March 17 when he was granted protective bail.
The counsel started narrating the incidents by apprising the court that they went to Islamabad on March 18 to file a bail petition, adding they were not allowed to enter the federal capital.
At this, the two-member bench asked the government’s lawyer to confirm whether bail petitions were filed or not. “We are unaware of this,” the government’s lawyer told the court.
“Were these petitions fixed for hearing?” the judges cross-questioned, at which Khan’s counsel told them that the petitions are currently with the staff of the district and sessions court in Islamabad.
The LHC directed that authorities concerned call the prosecutor-general within half an hour. At which, the court was informed that he wasn’t there, adding that the if the court was convinced that the petitions are filed in the Islamabad court they would not oppose it.
The court further added that the petition bail cannot be fixed for hearing until the petitioner is himself/herself present in the court. “This is why the case wasn’t heard because Khan was unable to appear before the court,” the lawyer representing the PTI chief said, resuming his narration regarding the timeline of the incidents.
“March 19 was Sunday and then on March 21 we secured more bails as a total of 140 cases have been registered against Khan,” he said, continuing that no case was fixed for March 22 while March 23 was a public holiday.
The lawyers maintained that all cases are politically motivated and any relief granted so far hasn’t been misused.
“It is impossible to defend all these cases at different places as Khan is a 71-year-old person and is still recovering from the injuries which were sustained during the assassination attempt in November last year,” the lawyers argued, saying that it is difficult for Khan to visit Islamabad again and again.
The court asked the PTI chief to submit an affidavit that a bail petition has been submitted in Islamabad.
“We don’t want to set any traditions as the judgement, in this case, will be quoted in the future,” Justice Sheikh said.
Khan’s lawyers assured the court that they would “try to” submit the affidavit by 4:45pm on which the judges adjourned that hearing for a brief time. After resuming the hearing, the court immediately announced its verdict granting an extension.
During a hearing on the petition filed against a probable operation at Zaman Park, the PTI chief said his client isn't able to sleep as he fears the police might raid his Lahore residence once again.
Following brief arguments by his lawyer, Khan then came to the rostrum.
The PTI chief told the LHC that despite its orders, the police conducted a raid at his house for two hours and "stole" his belongings.
He said the police followed "the law of the jungle" as the court orders were violated. "Even the police are frustrated with whatever is happening," the former prime minister said.
The court then issued a notice to the Punjab government and asked its representative to appear on March 28.