PTI chief's bail plea in cipher case to be heard in open court: IHC

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) announced on Wednesday that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief’s bail plea hearing in cipher case registered under Official Secrets Act will take place in open court.

The IHC had reserved its verdict earlier this week on FIA’s plea seeking in-camera hearing on the PTI chief’s bail application in the cipher case.

In the verdict, the IHC said open court hearing on the bail petition would be held on October 9. The IHC said arguments by lawyers on documents considered as sensitive will be heard in-camera.

The FIA on Monday had requested the IHC for an in-camera hearing on former prime minister’s bail plea in cipher case fearing an open court hearing could harm Pakistan's diplomatic ties with other countries if the matter was discussed publicly.

A day earlier, the Ministry of Law and Justice had issued a notification for jail trial of the ex-premier and former foreign minister in the cipher case.

The notification referred to the request of Judge Special Court (Official Secrets Act) stating the Law and Justice Division had No Objection to the jail trial of the accused in which he was confined, under the Official Secrets Act.

However, the PTI insistied that the case should be heard in an open court.

Pronouncing the reserved verdict on FIA’s appeal, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq ruled an open court would hear PTI chairman’s bail plea.

The court also said upon sensitive information or documents being brought on record the hearing coluld be made in-camera.

PTI lawyer Barrister Salman Safdar said the in-camera trial of PTI chief and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case “unconstitutional”.

He made the remarks while talking to the media outside Adiala jail, where the special court presided over a hearing of the cipher case, which was adjourned until October 9.

Prior to Wednesday’s hearing, PTI chief’s lawyer Naeem Haider Panjutha said that the legal team was to meet the party chief shortly.

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