IHC directs lower court to decide Imran, Bushra petition in Iddat case in 10 days

ISLAMABAD   -   The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday directed the sessions court to decide petition of PTI founder and his wife Bushra for suspension of their sentence in the Iddat case within 10 days. The bench also gave one month’s time to the lower court to decide the petitions challenging the conviction of Imran Khan and Bushra in the case. A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb issued the directions while hearing of the petitions of Imran and Bushra Bibi challenging the transfer of their case from one court to another court. It was February 3 when Imran and Bushra were sentenced in the Iddat Nikkah case. Twenty days later, the appeal against the verdict was filed in the sessions court. Judge Arjumand heard the appeal and was expected to announce his decision on May 29, when he requested the IHC to send the case to another judge. Later, the IHC transferred the case to Additional District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Afzal Majuka. Imran and Bushra later challenged the transfer of the appeal in the IHC. However, the registrar office raised the objection that the appeal was pending before the sessions court.

Justice Miangul Hassan wrote in his written order that indeed Section 526(1) Cr.PC empowers the high court to order a particular case or appeal to be transferred from a criminal Court subordinate to its authority to any other such criminal Court of equal or superior jurisdiction.

He added that it also empowers this Court to transfer a particular case or appeal to itself.

He mentioned that the appeals are also accompanied with applications for the suspension of the sentence awarded to the petitioner through judgment dated 03.02.2024. Therefore, he said that bearing in mind all the relevant circumstances mentioned herein above, “I deem it appropriate to dispose of the instant petition with a direction to the learned transferee Court to decide the applications under Section 426 Cr.PC within a period of ten working days from today and to decide the appeals within a period of thirty days from today.”

During the proceedings, lawyer Salman Akram Raja, representing the petitioners, expressed concerns over the abrupt transfer of the case from the original Sessions Judge to an Additional Session Judge.

He questioned the rationale behind this sudden change and urged the court to direct Sessions Judge Shah Rukh Arjumand to deliver the reserved verdict. He suggested that, alternatively, the high court could take up the appeal itself or reassign it to the Session Judge West.

Khawar Maneka’s lawyer, Raja Rizwan Abbasi opposed the transfer highlighting that an objection had been previously raised and dismissed. Abbasi asserted that the administrative decision to refer the appeals to the Additional Session Judge West was unchallengeable.