ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has granted bail to former Prime Minister and Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, in a cipher case, and has ordered that the hearing be conducted in an open court instead of in-camera.
Chief Justice Aamir Farooq of the Islamabad High Court has dismissed the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) request for an in-camera hearing and has made a favorable ruling. The court stated that an in-camera hearing may be considered only when sensitive information is at stake, and such proceedings will be conducted accordingly.
It’s worth noting that just two days ago, the Islamabad High Court had reserved its decision regarding Imran Khan’s bail application to be heard in-camera in the cipher case.
During the proceedings, Chief Justice Aamir Farooq heard the FIA’s request for an in-camera hearing on Chairman PTI’s bail application. Special Prosecutor Shah Khawar represented the FIA, and Chairman PTI’s lawyer, Salman Safdar, appeared in court to argue against the request for an in-camera hearing.
Chief Justice Amir Farooq noted that in his nine years on the bench, he had rarely encountered in-camera hearings, with only one instance related to a missing person case. The decision regarding the hearing format was reserved after considering arguments from both parties.
Previously, under the Official Secrets Act of 1923, a special court had adjourned the hearing of the cipher case against Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi to October 9. This delay occurred as the matter was under consideration by the Islamabad High Court. Imran Khan’s lawyer had deemed the in-camera hearing of the cipher case as ‘unconstitutional’.
During the in-camera hearing in Adiala Jail, Chairman PTI and Shah Mehmood Qureshi were brought before Special Court Judge Abul Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain. Salman Safdar, Chairman PTI’s lawyer, had requested that the trial be postponed until the Islamabad High Court’s decision regarding the in-camera hearing plea was made. The court subsequently adjourned the hearing to October 9 without further proceedings.
Recently, the Ministry of Law and Justice issued a notification for the trial of Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case. However, PTI rejected the notification and demanded that the case be heard in an open court. They urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of what they perceived as an attempt to target Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi for political reasons by depriving them of their fundamental constitutional right to a fair trial.
It should be noted that on September 30, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted a challan in court, alleging that Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi were withholding the secret text of the cipher in violation of Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act. They were declared the primary suspects in the case related to the loss of the cipher.