Open hearing in cipher case could affect Pakistan’s diplomatic relations, court told

IHC reserves verdict on FIA’s plea for in-camera hearing of cipher case

ISLAMABAD  -  The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday reserved its verdict on pe­tition of FIA seeking in-camera hear­ing on bail petition of chairman PTI in cipher case. Chief Justice Aam­er Farooq heard the post-arrest bail plea of Chairman PTI and Federal In­vestigation Agency (FIA)’s case for in-camera hearing together. During the course of proceeding, Special Prosecutor FIA Shahkhawar Advo­cate adopted stance that trial of an accused under Official Secrets Act could not be conducted openly. He said that the hearing on bail peti­tion could also be done in-camera as the prosecution had to present some sensitive material before court. 

The prosecutor said that open hear­ing in this case could affect diplomat­ic relations with some countries. The chief justice asked the lawyer to tell the code of conduct in cases under Official Secrets Act. Additional Attor­ney General Munawar Dread pointed out the code of conduct and said that every country had separate codes for messaging. Shahkhawar Advocate said that cipher was a secret docu­ment, which was kept secret. 

The ciphers used to be sent through fax or e-mails in coded form and they were de-coded by the for­eign office to understand. 

The foreign office was the actual home of ciphers, he said. 

PTI Chairman’s Lawyer Barrister Salman opposed the request of FIA and argued that if the cipher was already made public as per the FIR then now what document the pros­ecution wanted to be not made pub­lic. Why this application was not filed in trial court, he asked. 

After hearing arguments, the bench reserved verdict on the ap­plication of FIA and adjourned this day’s hearing.

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