Cipher case: Govt challenges IHC verdict nullifying Imran's jail trial in SC

IHC did not have authority to declare a special court invalid, contends govt in plea

By
Maryam Nawaz
Pakistans former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is facing terrorism charges, appears in court to extend pre-arrest bail, in Islamabad, Pakistan September 1, 2022. — Reuters
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is facing terrorism charges, appears in court to extend pre-arrest bail, in Islamabad, Pakistan September 1, 2022. — Reuters

  • IHC nullified Imran's jail trial in cipher case in Nov last year.
  • High court did not evaluate facts of case properly, contends govt.
  • IHC declared law ministry's notification of "no legal effect". 


ISLAMABAD: The federal government has challenged the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision to declare its notification regarding the jail trial of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan's jail trial in cipher case as null and void.

In November last year, IHC nullified the notification for conducting PTI founder Imran Khan's jail trial in the cipher case registered on charges of leaking state secrets.

An IHC division bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, announced the verdict on November 21, 2023 on Imran’s intra-court appeal against a single-member bench’s decision to approve his jail trial in the cipher case under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

In its petition filed in the apex court today, the federal government implored the SC to overturn the IHC decision saying that the high court did not evaluate the facts of the case properly.

It contended that the IHC did not have the authority to declare a special court formed to hold cipher trial of the former premier as invalid.

Allowing Khan's intra-court appeal, the division bench declared the law ministry's notification "to be without lawful authority and no legal effect".

The IHC stated in the three-page short order that the jail trial can be conducted in "exceptional circumstances".

"In exceptional circumstances and where it is conducive to justice, a trial can be conducted in jail in a manner that fulfills the requirements of an open trial or a trial in camera provided it is in accordance with the procedure provided by law."

The court also declared that the November 15 notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice after the caretaker cabinet's approval of the jail trial "cannot be given retrospective effect".

Subsequently, Imran’s cipher trial was started afresh but the IHC declared all the proceedings in the cipher case conducted by a special court after December 14, 2023 as invalid.