ISLAMABAD: A special court on Tuesday extended PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s judicial remand in the cipher case until October 10.
The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document which reportedly went missing from Imran’s possession. The PTI alleges that it contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran from power.
Following the suspension of the PTI chairman’s three-year jail term in the Toshakhana case, it emerged that he had been in judicial remand in the cipher case.
As per the law ministry’s notification, Imran’s special court proceedings are being held in the Attock jail “due to security reasons”.
Imran’s judicial remand was initially extended till September 13 and then again till September 26, along with Qureshi’s. Both leaders’ bail pleas were rejected by the special court earlier this month. Subsequently, Imran has approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking post-arrest bail.
A day ago, the IHC had ordered that the former premier be transferred to the Adiala jail. However, he remains in the Attock jail mainly due to two reasons — security concerns and the absence of a written order.
Today, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain presided over the in-camera hearing, which took place at Attock jail. Prior to the hearing, elaborate security arrangements were made outside the jail.
The law ministry had yesterday issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the hearing to be held at the Attock jail. A copy of the NOC was also sent to the jail superintendent.
During the hearing, the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) team was present as well as Imran’s lawyers Salman Safdar and Umair Niazi. Naeem Haider Panjotha and Latif Khosa, who are also the PTI chief’s counsels, also reached the jail to attend the hearing.
Subsequently, the judicial remand of the ex-premier was extended till October 10. The court also ordered the FIA to submit a challan soon of the case.
On the matter of Imran’s transfer to the Adiala jail, Khosa told Dawn.com that the PTI chief had informed the court he did not wish to be moved there as he had “now adjusted to Attock jail”. He further said he would ask his lawyers to withdraw the plea for the same, Khosa added.
Meanwhile, Qureshi was presented before the special court at the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) in Islamabad, where his attendance was marked by court officials. He was brought to the court handcuffed.
The FIA’s team, special prosecutors and PTI lawyers appeared before the court. The court authorities then informed him that his judicial remand in the case was also extended till October 10.
Talking to reporters at the FJC, the former foreign minister said his “intention was clear” and that he was innocent in the case.
He further said that if the PTI was not allowed to contest the general elections, the polls would be “meaningless” and “worthless”.
Separately, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued the written verdict on Imran’s plea seeking transfer to Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, ordering the same and setting aside all previous notifications and orders under which he was detained at the Attock jail.
The order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated that the current status of the petitioner was an under-trial prisoner. Noting that Islamabad did not have a prison of its own, it said that all such prisoners facing cases in the capital were to be kept at the Adiala Jail.
“To say that it (Adiala Jail) cannot house another prisoner/person, would not reflect the correct position,” the order stated.
It further said, “There is nothing on record to substantiate the plea of the respondents regarding security concerns or lack of adequate security at the Central Jail Adyala, Rawalpindi.”
On the matter of jail facilities provided to the former premier, it observed: “He (Imran) shall be entitled to all the facilities which are afforded to a better-class prisoner.”
Regarding the request made a day ago that the PTI chief be provided with an “exercise machine”, the IHC said it cannot issue such directions and whether it was permissible or not, and directed Imran to file an application for it before the Attock jail superintendent.
Meanwhile, the IHC also issued the written verdict on Imran’s plea against the FIA’s request for in-camera proceedings of the PTI chief’s bail plea before the high court.
In it, the IHC noted that the petitioner’s counsel had submitted that he had “no objection if unnecessary people are excluded” from the hearing.
Stating that Section 14 of the Offical Secrets Act 1923 permitted the “exclusion of public from the proceedings”, the IHC said it required that the prosecution file an application for it.
“In case, the prosecution is interested that the public be excluded from the proceedings of instant case, it may move an appropriate application in this behalf,” it observed. –Agencies