Imran’s plea against police action at Zaman Park turned down

Imran’s plea against police action at Zaman Park turned down


LAHORE:

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday turned down Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s request to restrain law enforcement agencies from launching a possible operation at the former premier’s Zaman Park residence and from attempting to arrest him.

A five-member of the LHC, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, was hearing the PTI chairman’s plea seeking further directives to the concerned quarters for not taking any coercive measures in connection with the 121 FIRs registered against him.

On April 17, a division bench of the high court, headed by Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, heard the petition. After hearing the arguments of Imran’s counsel and the law officer, the bench referred the matter to Chief Justice LHC Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and proposed to constitute a larger bench on the issue.

After the proceedings commenced today, Imran’s counsel Barrister Salman Safdar implored the court that basic fundamental rights are being violated and added that his client had been obtaining bail orders for the last three months in “false and politically motivated cases” registered against him.

The counsel prayed that they are not demanding relief for an indefinite period and clarified relief from the court was being sought only for the duration of the Eid holidays. He also requested the court to pass directions to the authorities to not launch any operation at Zaman Park as the courts would be not functioning during the upcoming holiday period.

“We obtain the bail if there is any FIR against the petitioner,” the counsel argued. Justice Najafi remarked that the court’s doors are open even during the Eid holidays.

Responding to Justice Najafi’s query about the government’s version, the law officer informed the court that the application by the PTI chairman is based “purely on speculation and doubt”, adding that nothing is “black and white”.

The law officer further stated that government institutions work according to the law and can not be stopped from performing their duties. He also expelled the impression that an operation will be carried out, saying that “no plan has yet been constituted, such as the one being portrayed here”.

“Do you ensure that no coercive measures will be taken in those cases already registered against the petitioner,” asked the other bench member, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh.

“Just tell the court if the authorities will let the petitioner celebrate Eid at his home,” Justice Najafi stated to the law officer.

“Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) had been constituted on different cases, so the law enforcement agencies will proceed if any evidence surfaces,” replied the law officer.

“No one should harm the petitioner if he had obtained bail in all cases,” Justice Aali Neelum remarked.

Another bench member, Justice Anwaarul Haq Pannun, asked since when have the JITs been formed and whether they will continue their investigation during the Eid holidays. He further asked if JIT members do not go to their homes on Eid.

The assistant advocate general questioned whether any provision in the Constitution allows taking such a step, wherein according to the petitioner’s version, police have yet to arrest the PTI chief but he is demanding that police officials be restrained from doing so.

When the law officer again reiterated his earlier stance, Justice Amjad Rafique remarked that the Constitution also suggests suspension of the investigation in those matters where there is no doubt of the accused fleeing from the authorities.

Former premier Imran Khan, who was present in the courtroom, took to the rostrum and informed the court that the nation knows him for fifty years and he has “never violated the Constitution”.

Imran said earlier Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh had restrained the concerned quarters from taking any coercive measures but everyone saw what happened at Zaman Park. “Their statements show they will take action,” the PTI chief reiterated.

“I was earlier informed of the attack and everyone saw I was attacked. I had submitted surety bonds and went to Islamabad but the police attacked Zaman Park and in Islamabad, I was forcefully restrained from appearing before the relevant court.”

After hearing detailed arguments, the court reserved the decision and then announced it. However, the court directed the concerned quarters to not harass Imran.

Petition

The petitioner filed a plea seeking direction to the quarters concerned to declare that the unprecedented repeated abuse and misuse of criminal law machinery of the state to register criminal cases against him amounts to violation of the contours of Section 154 of the CrPC 1898 causing grave unlawful and illegal violation of the “petitioner’s fundamental rights under several articles of the Constitution of Pakistan”.

“The repeated practice of lodging FIRs with police as the complainant while ignoring the petitioner’s complaint amounts to a colourable exercise of powers granted under relevant law and such dishonest ouster of petitioner’s legitimate claims is a violation of inter alia the petitioners right of access to justice, as well as the limits and operation of Section 154 of the CrPC 1898 as defined by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Therefore, it is requested to the court to refrain the respondents from repeating this practice against the petitioner.”

It is requested to the court to “declare that the practice of lodging different FIRs all over Pakistan over the same occurrence and practice of unnecessarily prolonging the incarceration of an accused by transferring them from one jurisdiction to another is a deliberate and violation of fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution and further refrain the concerned quarters from undertaking this practice against the petitioner and their workers and leaders.”

The petitioner also sought direction for not taking any coercive action against the petitioner in various pending proceedings in pursuance of all FIRs, call-up notices, inquiries till the final disposal of this petition.

Imran also requested the court to pass directions to the quarters concerned to provide details of the FIRs and criminal proceedings initiated against the petitioner.

The petitioner requested the court to declare that the actions of the respondents amount to a violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioners and political victimisation in violation of the Constitution and consequently issue appropriate orders restraining them from initiating any criminal proceedings against the petitioner without prior notice and or an opportunity of being heard in the presence of his counsel.





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