Govt 'completes arrangements' for Imran Khan's virtual appearance in SC today

This will be jailed PTI founder’s first virtual appearance in public in nearly 10 months

Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
Former prime minister Imran Khan appeared before a district and sessions court via video link from his office in December 2021. — PMO

  • Sources say arrangements made in light of top court’s orders.
  • Imran Khan had challenged amendments to NAB law.
  • CJP Isa-led bench to resume hearing of case on Thursday. 

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has completed arrangements to ensure incarcerated former prime minister Imran Khan’s appearance before the Supreme Court bench via video link in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) amendments case today (Thursday), Geo News learnt on Wednesday.

The sources within the federal government told Geo News that arrangements have been made in light of the apex court’s orders directing the Centre and Punjab government to arrange a video link facility for the jailed PTI founder to allow him to present his arguments in the case.

"The PTI founder can present his arguments in the upcoming hearing via video link if he wishes to do so [...] arrangements should be made for the presentation of arguments via video link," Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa said on Tuesday.

The CJP's remarks came during the hearing of the federal government's intra-court appeal filed against the apex court's 2023 verdict that annulled some of the NAB amendments.

The five-member Supreme Court larger bench, headed by CJP Isa, includes Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi.

The same bench will resume hearing of the case on May 16.

Khan, incarcerated in Adiala Jail, wanted to appear in the apex court in person to present his arguments. However, the court allowed him to present his arguments via video link.

The PTI founder has been out of sight since August last year after he was arrested following a conviction in the Toshakhana case.

Following his arrest, the PTI founder was convicted in other cases including cipher and illegal marriage which kept him behind bars despite him securing bail in some of the cases.

If appeared via video link, this will be Khan’s first virtual appearance in public in nearly 10 months.

The Adiala Jail sources said arrangements regarding Khan’s video link appearance have been made on the apex court’s directives. However, it is up to the PTI founder if he appears before the bench or not. They added that the authorities would ensure Khan's virtual appearance before the court.

A three-member bench of the SC, in September 2023, had approved former prime minister Khan's petition challenging amendments made to the country's accountability laws during the tenure of the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government.

Headed by then-chief justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the court held more than 50 hearings and in its majority 2-1 verdict restored graft cases against public office holders that were closed down following the amendments.

The apex court ordered restoring all graft cases worth less than Rs500 million that were closed down against the political leaders belonging to different political parties and public office holders and declared the amendments void.

The verdict provisions far-reaching consequences as the striking down of the amendments would mean that references against some of the country's political bigwigs will once again land in the accountability courts.

These include the Toshakhana reference against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, along with the LNG reference against former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the rental power reference against another ex-premier Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Following the verdict, the federal government filed an appeal under Section 5 of the SC law against the apex court’s order.