Trouble With Judges
LHC refuses bail and urges PTI chiefs to appear in person today
- ATC Islamabad lifts provisional bail
- IHC takes banking court ‘adverse measures’ against former PM
Former PM Imran Khan failed to secure his court appearance at the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday after the Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court denied his request for bail before he was arrested for allegedly missing hearings in a case involving violence outside of Pakistan’s electoral commission.
The head of the PTI petitioned the Supreme Court for interim protection on bail, but the Supreme Court refused to grant bail without his appearance in person and adjourned the petition until Thursday (today).
Judge Tariq Saleem Sheikh first dealt with the hastily filed petition at around 5:30 p.m. and questioned PTI attorneys about the petitioner’s absence. The lawyer said doctors had warned Mr Khan not to walk for the next three weeks because of a leg injury. The judge noted that without the plaintiff’s appearance, the court would not proceed because “the law is the same for everyone.”
Judge Sheikh reminded the attorney that the case should essentially be dismissed, but the court took a “lenient position”. He asked the lawyer to present Mr Khan by 8 pm when the court would resume proceedings. However, PTI’s attorneys have taken the same position. The judge also barred PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, also a lawyer, from bringing arguments on behalf of the applicant because he was “not wearing a uniform”.
The lawyer informed the court that Mr Khan could attend the proceedings via video link, adding that the Islamabad High Court had also granted Mr Khan a medical discharge. Judge Sheikh denied the request, requiring the former prime minister to be present in court, on a stretcher, or in an ambulance. The lawyers asked for time for consultations but returned with the same position. The judge adjourned the hearing until Thursday morning.
ATC Releases Bail
Today, ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan recalled the provisional release before the PTI head was arrested after leaving the hearing. The former prime minister was required to appear in court at every hearing before his arrest because of his probation; however, his defense attorney has repeatedly requested a waiver to appear in person because of his injuries.
According to a court order, Mr Khan requested bail prior to his arrest on October 24 last year but did not attend subsequent hearings on October 31 and after his injury on November 3.
The court then ruled that “the defendant/applicant failed to appear in court on the day the matter was referred for final adjudication…therefore the request for immediate release prior to arrest was dismissed due to the applicant Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi denied appearance He also denied a request for Khan’s release on medical par on February 15.
After a brief hearing in the morning, the judge adjourned the hearing until the afternoon and ordered Mr. Khan to appear in person, but the motion was denied after his absence
Funding Ban Proceedings
The Special Judge (Bank Crime) also gave Mr Khan one last chance to appear in person and ordered the head of the PTI to appear by 3:30 p.m. after the funding ban procedure.
Mr. Khan was also out on bail in an unfunded case and there were serious concerns that the court could also overturn the bail order. However, when the Islamabad High Court (IHC) panel issued a stay order on the case, Judge Rukhshanda Shaheen postponed the release decision until February 18 before his arrest.
The court also granted bail requests from three defendants and four withdrew their requests for bail prior to their arrest. First, the judge ordered lawyers and journalists to leave the courtroom and allowed the prosecution and defense to remain in the courtroom.
During the hearing, Salman Safdar, a lawyer for Khan, argued that the PTI chairman is a man in his 70s and has been suffering from injuries for three months. He said Mr Khan would need a further three weeks off to fully recover and asked for a release from the personal aspect and an extension of bail.
The Special Prosecutor argued that the medical certificate was not sufficient to justify his release as Mr Khan was admitted to Shaukat Khanum instead of a public hospital. He added that Imran Khan also did not participate in the investigation. The judge warned the head of the PTI to appear in court before it closed.
In the meantime, however, the court has been informed that the IHC has issued a stay order on the matter.
In an appeal to the Banking Court, an IHC jury composed of Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri advised the Magistrate’s Court not to take action against Imran Khan.
Mr. Khan’s lawyer argued in court that the PTI chairman had already appeared in court. The jury requested Mr. Khan’s new medical report on February 22, barring the court from acting.