Cipher case: IHC rejects Imran Khan’s plea against jail trial

“Right now we cannot give you any interim relief,” observes Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb

Awais Yousafzai
A view of the Islamabad High Court building. — Geo News/File
A view of the Islamabad High Court building. — Geo News/File

  • Govt not authorised to issue jail trial notification: PTI counsel.
  • IHC chief justice might form new bench on matter: IHC judge.
  • Khan had challenged IHC single bench before division bench.

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s plea against a jail trial in the cipher case.

A two-member IHC bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat presided over the hearing on Khan's intra-court appeal against the jail trial, containing objections imposed by the court's registrar. 

The IHC CJ had upheld decision of the jail trial and the appointment of the Official Secrets Act court's judge, which was challenged through an intra-court appeal.

PTI chief’s counsel Salman Akram Raja contended before the bench that the federal government did not have the authority to issue a notification for holding Khan’s trial in prison.

He said it was the domain of the Islamabad commissioner to issue jail trial notification which he said was an administrative matter.

Counsel Raja said a single bench of the IHC had declared that the federal government had the prerogative to appoint a judge of its choice.

“They are judicial officers. The federal government does not have any authority to ‘pick and choose’ [judges],” he added.

Responding to this, Justice Aurangzeb said: “In this way, the executive will interfere in the judiciary’s domain.”

The division bench said the IHC chief justice might form a new bench on the matter after the file is referred to him after the removal of objections.

“[But] right now we cannot give you any interim relief,” Justice Aurangzeb said adding that whether the petition is admissible or not will be decided later.

The judge said that the rules cannot be violated for an individual but now the court is removing the objections imposed by the registrar office. 

Later, the court removed the registrar's objections from the intra-court appeal and referred it to the IHC chief justice, who will constitute a division bench.

Earlier this month, an IHC single bench found no apparent malice behind conducting Khan's jail trial in the cipher case, the court's verdict read and directed him to approach the trial court if reservations persist.

The court's decision, announced by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, came in the wake of hearing Khan's plea challenging his jail trial in the cipher case for days with the judge finally wrapping it up today.

The former premier, whose government was ousted following a no-confidence motion in April last year, wanted his trial in the aforementioned case to be conducted in an open court.

"The jail trial is in favour of the PTI chairman in view of his security," the court said, adding that Khan himself has repeatedly expressed his fears about his safety.

In view of the security concerns, the authorities decided to hold the PTI chief’s trial in prison after he was arrested in August this year under the Official Secrets Act.

A day earlier, Khan along with PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi was indicted in the case involving charges of misusing diplomatic cable for vested and political purposes.

Both the leaders have been imprisoned in Adiala Jail of Rawalpindi.