ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will Monday (today) resume hearing in Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s post-arrest bail petition in the cipher case while the FIA has filed an application requesting the court to hold in-camera proceedings.
A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq will conduct hearing of the petition, wherein, the court had already sought replies from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) regarding the case.
In this matter, the FIA has also submitted an application urging the court to hold in-camera proceedings of this case. FIA prosecutor Shah Khawar Advocate filed the application and the IHC registrar office has fixed it along with the main bail plea of Imran in this case.
The special court established under the Official Secrets Act had rejected the post-arrest bail petition of Khan and his party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the case of the missing cipher.
Last month, the FIA booked the PTI chief and his party’s vice chairman under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly misplacing and misusing the classified document for vested political interests.
In this matter, Imran filed the petition through his lawyer Barrister Salman Safdar and cited the State and Secretary Interior as respondents in the case. The petition urged the IHC to grant Imran post-arrest bail till the final disposal of the cipher case “to meet the ends of justice”.
The petition claimed that nearly 200 criminal cases have been filed against the former premier, out of which “almost 40 cases are [on] charges of corruption, murder, sedition, mutiny, foreign funding, NAB (National Accountability Bureau) reference and Toshakhana reference”. It argued that the PTI chief could not avail remedy under section 498 (power to direct admission to bail or reduction of bail) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The petition alleged that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) operated at the behest of the then interior ministry. It added that the matter of the case not being registered by the foreign ministry had gone unnoticed by Special Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain.
“Never before, history has witnessed the ‘arrest’ and ‘prosecution’ of a former prime minister (Imran) and a former foreign minister (Qureshi) under this law (Secrets Act),” the plea stated. It went on to cite past verdicts to argue that “straightaway arrests have been condemned in landmark authoritative judgments”. The petition asserts that the Secrets Act was “originally enacted to hold members of the armed forces (air, navy, army) accountable for violations and breaches of the law”.
It contended that neither section 5 (wrongful communication, etc of information) nor section 9 (attempts, incitements, etc) of the Official Secrets Act were applicable in the cipher case, and neither does the law have “any remote relevance to the allegations detailed in the FIR”.
The petition further stated that former interior minister Rana Sanaullah and the FIA have made “contradictory statements”, according to which, the “original cipher document is securely held in the custody of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
It continued, “The petitioner’s primary concern was to prevent foreign interference in domestic political affairs.”
It was alleged in the petition, “This is another like attempt, made by the state functionaries, to secure the straightway arrest of the petitioner after suspension of his sentence in Toshakhana reference.” It further said that the respondents’ acts depict “clear mala fide, hostility, and vindictive motives to harm the petitioner in his office, career, person, reputation, and dignity”.
The petition stated that the petitioner was ready to furnish reasonable surety to the entire satisfaction of the court and also undertook “not to abscond or tamper with the prosecution witnesses”. Asserting that the PTI chief is “one of the few honest and dignified statesmen of Pakistan”, the petition recalled Imran’s cricket career and philanthropic contributions.
It went on to contend that his “mandate and growing popularity it got from the masses became a threat to the already well-established political forces”. The plea added that state machinery was being misused with the sole objective of “political victimisation and score-settling”.
According to the FIR, a case has been registered against former prime minister Imran Khan and Qureshi under sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secret Act, 1923, read with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).