ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday combined Chairman PTI Imran Khan’s petitions seeking to stay the trial court proceedings in the cipher case and dismiss the case altogether.
The cipher case involves a diplomatic document that reportedly disappeared from Imran’s possession. The PTI claims that this document contained a threat from the United States to remove Khan from office.
Imran Khan, the PTI chief, received a three-year prison sentence on August 5, 2023, in the Toshakhana graft case. He was subsequently transferred to Attock jail, but the IHC later suspended his sentence. Nonetheless, Khan remained in jail due to his judicial remand in the cipher case.
On September 26, the IHC approved Imran’s request to be transferred 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 the former prime minister and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as the primary accused in the cipher case.
Imran filed multiple petitions with the IHC, including one to halt his jail trial 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, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq addressed a separate plea seeking a stay on Imran’s trial in the cipher case. He combined it with the main plea, where Imran seeks the case’s dismissal, and scheduled it for a hearing.
During the hearing, senior lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa appeared as Imran’s counsel and informed the court that the petitions aimed to halt the trial court proceedings and challenge the special court’s indictment order.
Khosa emphasized that the matter was pending before the IHC, and a verdict had been reserved. He also mentioned that the Lahore High Court had issued a stay order in a case brought by the FIA.
Khosa reiterated his concerns about the application of the Official Secrets Act in the case. He questioned whether any security was compromised or any secrecy leaked, citing similar remarks made by Bhutto in his speech in Raja Bazaar.
“My client is a national hero, and the world knows and believes that. Now, he is in jail, innocent,” Khosa asserted.
Justice Farooq then suggested combining the separate plea with the one seeking dismissal of the case, to which Khosa agreed on the condition that it would be scheduled for a hearing before October 17.
When asked about the significance of October 17, the counsel replied, “There would be great unpleasantness on October 17. A trial is underway, and the indictment is scheduled.”
The chief justice assured that he would review the matter and issue an order, ensuring that the pleas would be scheduled for a hearing before October 17.
Meanwhile, Imran’s lawyer, Naeem Haider Panjutha, expressed dissatisfaction with the delay in today’s hearing of his client’s bail plea in the cipher case.