ISLAMABAD: The federal government has formally contested the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling, which declared null and void its notification pertaining to the incarceration trial of former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder, Imran Khan, in the cipher case.
The IHC had invalidated the notification in November of the previous year, concerning the conduct of Imran Khan’s jail trial in the cipher case, which involved charges related to the leakage of state secrets.
On November 21, 2023, a division bench of the IHC, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, pronounced the verdict on Imran Khan’s intra-court appeal against a single-member bench’s decision to endorse his jail trial in the cipher case under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
In its petition submitted to the Supreme Court today, the federal government fervently urged the overturning of the IHC decision, asserting that the high court had not meticulously assessed the facts of the case. The government contended that the IHC lacked the authority to nullify a specially constituted court for the cipher trial of the former premier.
The division bench, allowing Imran Khan’s intra-court appeal, declared the law ministry’s notification as “without lawful authority and no legal effect.”
In a concise three-page order, the IHC expressed that a jail trial could be conducted under “exceptional circumstances,” where it aligns with the principles of an open trial or a trial in camera, provided it adheres to the legally prescribed procedure.
Furthermore, the court clarified that the notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice on November 15, subsequent to the approval of the jail trial by the caretaker cabinet, “cannot be given retrospective effect.”