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IHC Directs Imran Khan to Pursue Special Court for Jail Trial

Today, the IHC disposed of the plea against conducting the cipher case trial in Adiala Jail, advising Imran Khan to instead approach the special court for resolution.

October 16, 2023 12:11 pm

PTI Chairman Imran Khan
PTI Chairman Imran Khan

Islamabad, Pakistan – The Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued a directive on Monday, instructing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to approach a special court for his jail trial in the cipher case.

The cipher case revolves around a diplomatic document that allegedly went missing from Imran Khan’s possession. The PTI claims that the document contained a threat from the United States aimed at removing Khan from office.

Imran Khan had previously been convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in the Toshakhana graft case on August 5, 2023. Subsequently, he was relocated to Attock jail, although the IHC later suspended his sentence. However, Khan remained in custody due to being on judicial remand in the cipher case.

On September 25, the IHC approved Imran Khan’s request to be moved from Attock district jail to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi.

On September 30, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted a charge sheet in the Special Court established under the Official Secrets Act, naming Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as principal accused in the cipher case.

Imran Khan has filed several petitions in the IHC, including two seeking to halt his jail trial and bail in the cipher case, another to suspend the Toshakhana verdict, and a third challenging his indictment in the cipher case, which is scheduled for October 17.

Today, the IHC disposed of the plea against conducting the cipher case trial in Adiala Jail, advising Imran Khan to instead approach the special court for resolution.

In the announced verdict, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq noted that the jail trial was deemed “in favor” of the former prime minister, taking into account security concerns. The verdict indicated, “There is no ill will apparent on the matter of the jail trial.” It was recalled that Imran Khan had repeatedly expressed security reservations. “If the PTI chairman has reservations about the jail trial, he may approach the trial court,” the order stated.

Separately, the IHC also heard Imran Khan’s request for bail in the cipher case. During the proceedings, Special Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi presented arguments.

Abbasi stated that the federal government had authorized the filing of the complaint against Imran Khan through the interior secretary. He highlighted two categories of cases under the Official Secrets Act: one carrying a punishment of ten years or less (bailable), and the other with a prison sentence exceeding ten years (non-bailable). Imran Khan was charged under the latter category.

Justice Farooq inquired about the possibility of sharing information from the cipher. Abbasi clarified that in one category, information could be shared, while in the other, it couldn’t.

Abbasi argued that the cipher was classified as “top secret” and could not be shared with the public. He contended that the PTI chairman had disclosed the cipher’s information when he lacked authorization to do so.

The discussion also touched on the chain of custody for ciphers, with Abbasi explaining that this information was available in witness statements. He emphasized that this was a secret classified document that should not have been circulated. Additionally, Abbasi cited similar cases from neighboring India.

The IHC Chief Justice inquired about the necessity of keeping Imran Khan under arrest following the submission of the charge sheet. Abbasi raised the possibility that someone might be benefiting from a situation where Pakistan’s relationship with the United States is negatively impacted by someone’s statement. He noted that the cipher was a document that couldn’t even be shared with friends or family.

The hearing continues to shed light on the intricate legal aspects of the cipher case, which is of significant importance in Pakistan’s political and legal landscape.

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