The Islamabad High Court will take up PTI chairman and deposed premier Imran Khan’s intra-court appeal on Monday (today) against a single-judge bench’s decision that had approved his jail trial in the cipher case and the appointment of the judge for the special court of the Official Secrets Act.
An IHC division bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, will hear the matter. At the previous hearing held on Thursday, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan read out the judgment of the single-judge bench. He argued that the intra-court appeal was not maintainable as the single-judge bench had clarified that the jail trial was open proceedings.
Justice Aurangzeb remarked that open proceedings meant that they should be open for everyone. He judge asked whether the two notifications about the jail trial were in accordance with the law. The AGP replied that the notification of the jail trial of the PTI chairman was issued because of security issues, adding that the judge of the special court wrote to the law ministry about this issue.
Awan noted that PTI leader and co-accused Shah Mahmood Qureshi had filed an application for a trial in the regular court, but it was rejected.
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He added that a co-accused could not be tried separately in a regular court in the same case. The AGP informed the bench that the judge had requested a jail trial for the first time on September 12. The bench noted that it was for one time only, asking why the judge had written to the federal government after rejecting the application of the prosecution,
Awan replied that the prosecution had given an application to stop the public entry to the court. He continued that jail trial and keeping the public out of the proceedings were not the same. The AGP said lawyers had permission to go to the courtroom. He added that a big room had been allocated in jail for the proceedings,
The attorney general concluded his arguments by saying that the jail trial was not in-camera proceedings. The bench then adjourned the hearing till Monday, seeking counter-arguments from the PTI chairman’s lawyer. On Wednesday, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq directed the special court trying the cipher case against Imran and Qureshi to complete the proceedings in four weeks.
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In his verdict, the IHC CJ directed the authorities to ensure an open and transparent trial and ensure maximum possible attendance in the court, keeping security issue in mind. The court ordered the jail authorities to ensure the dignity of the accused. The judgment read that immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution did not apply to this case. It continued that the article applied to criminal charges made in the course of official duty.
The verdict noted that the PTI chairman was the head of a major political party and that his trial inside the jail was being conducted because his family had previously expressed concerns about his security. It added that bringing Imran to court on every hearing could create security issues.
(With input from APP)