ISLAMABAD : – The arrest warrants for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case were stayed by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday.
Upon admitting Imran Khan’s appeal against Additional Session Judge Zafar Iqbal’s ruling, IHC Chief Justice Amir Farooq issued the reserved judgement.
The judge further ordered Mr Khan to appear before the lower court on March 13.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) deferred its decision on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s challenge against the non-bailable arrest warrants issued in the Toshakhana case earlier today. Mr Khan had asked the IHC to revoke the warrants issued by a sessions court since he had failed to appear before the court to preserve his indictment earlier today.
His counsel stated that he couldn’t appear in court since the day Mr Khan was called by the sessions court was also the day he had to appear in three other courts. The court then issued arrest warrants for him, and the capital police attempted to apprehend him.
Judge Amir Farooq questioned about the consequences of rescinding the warrants. “The court called him for indictment simply because the law requires it,” he said. How else the court should call him, he queried further. If Mr Khan so desired, he may seek exemption after indictment.
When Mr Khan will appear for indictment, IHC Chief Justice Amir Farooq enquired. Could you please tell the court after consulting with the PTI chairman, he asked? Mr Khan had to come before the IHC on March 9, therefore he might also attend before the other court, he said. Please notify me of a date for indictment so that I may notify the trial court.
He added that everyone, not just Mr Khan, was experiencing security challenges here.
Mr Khan’s counsel contended that he would appear before the sessions court within four weeks. That was not practicable, according to the CJ, and meant that Mr Khan would not appear before the IHC on Thursday as well. The IHC should therefore notify the Sessions Court that Mr Khan must be tried as an absconder, he said.
Mr Khan’s counsel contended that he could not come before the sessions court since the IHC had ordered him to do so on March 9, to which the CJ responded that this was the reason his case had been scheduled for hearing at 3 p.m. “Appear in court at ease,” he said.
The attorneys representing the PTI head have asked the Supreme Court to set the matter for hearing today (Tuesday) and revoke the warrants. The plea comes while the Toshakhana case is being heard by Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal.
The former prime minister has missed three indictment hearings in district and sessions courts in the case brought by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for hiding the specifics of gifts he received from the Toshakhana while in office.
Additional Meetings On February 28, Judge Zafar Iqbal was scheduled to outline accusations against him, but his counsel requested an exemption since he had other court appearances in the capital city. The court then issued the PTI chief non-bailable arrest warrants and delayed the case until March 7.
A day earlier, the sessions court denied Mr Khan’s request to vacate the non-bailable arrest warrants issued against him for failing to appear in court. The judgement was issued in response to a petition submitted by Mr Khan’s attorneys, Qaisar Imam, Barrister Gohar, and Ali Bukhari.
Mr Imam had asked the cancellation of the warrants, stating that the law precluded the issuing of arrest warrants to some extent if the plea was made as a private complaint. Mr Khan’s attorneys informed the court on the day the warrants were issued that their client would not appear in court, according to Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal.