By our correspondent
According to the sources of Daily Notable, A special court constituted under the Official Secrets Act has extended the remand of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan till September 13 in the cipher case, the hearing of which was held at the Attock District Jail.
Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, who came to the prison to conduct the hearing, issued the ruling in the case of the missing cipher, a classified state document that Imran Khan brandished during a political rally before his dismissal from office last year.
The hearing of the case was held at the Attock District Jail after approval by the Law Ministry due to security concerns expressed by the Home Ministry.
Imran Khan has been incarcerated in the said jail since his conviction in the Toshakhana case on August 5 for failing to properly declare gifts he received while in office.
While the Islamabad High Court a day earlier overturned a lower court’s decision to imprison him for three years with a fine of 100,000 rupees – a sentence that prevented him from contesting the upcoming elections – he remains behind bars due to his judicial custody in cipher. case by August 30.
The FIA officially arrested the former prime minister in the cipher case earlier this month after booking him under the Official Secrets Act.
Subsequently, the PTI chief was sent to judicial custody in the cipher case till August 30 (today) at the same time he was serving his sentence in the Toshakhana case in Attock jail.
At today’s hearing, public prosecutor Zulfiqar Naqvi represented the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), while PTI lawyer Salman Safdar appeared on behalf of Khan.
The PTI chief’s lawyer later filed a bail application along with a request to hear the case in an open court, according to sources.
Earlier, the court also directed the Attock Jail Superintendent to remand the former Prime Minister in judicial custody and produce him after the remand period.
Therefore, he was not immediately released from jail despite the IHC orders staying the court’s conviction in Toshakhana’s case.
Meanwhile, PTI lawyers moved several bails after the court extended Khan’s remand.
In one petition, filed in a special court, PTI’s lawyers sought that the prison trial notice be declared “illegal”, sources said.
Meanwhile, in another, they sought the former prime minister’s bail, following which the court issued a notice to all parties on September 2, seeking a response, according to sources.
The parties, including the FIA special prosecutor and PTI lawyers, have been asked to present arguments in the case on the said date.
Ahead of the hearing, sources told Geo News that Khan’s five-member legal team – headed by advocate Salman Safdar – attended the court hearing at the jail.
The PTI chief’s legal team, comprising Naeem Haider Panjotha, Salman Safdar, Intizar Panjotha, Ali Ijaz Buttar and Umair Niazi, was earlier denied a request to meet Khan but was later allowed to enter the jail.
The police had earlier allowed only Safdar to enter the Attock jail premises.
On the other hand, one of Khan’s advisers, Buttar, questioned the former prime minister’s bond.
“We have many questions. When was the PTI chairman taken into custody? How was the detention allowed without telling the party chief and his lawyers?” he asked.
PTI moves special court for Imran Khan’s release
Speaking to the media after the hearing, PTI’s chief counsel Salman Safdar said the former prime minister was arrested in the cipher case 15 days ago while he was serving his sentence in Attock jail.
The lawyer said the former prime minister was not even aware that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had arrested him in the cipher case as well.
Safadr said the PTI chief is in judicial custody in the cipher case as the court rejected the FIA’s request for physical custody.
The lawyer said they have moved Khan’s bail application to the hearing of the cipher case to be held on September 2, adding that another objection to the public hearing of the case has been moved.
On the occasion, the lawyer also shared Khan’s view on the allegations of misplacing the cipher, quoting him as saying that the original diplomatic document was with the Foreign Office and had never been lost.
He also argued that after the cipher was declassified by the then Imran Khan-led government in 2022, the Official Secrets Act could not be applied in this case.
He said the law can be applied to cases involving espionage and other sensitive matters.
“The prosecution of the former Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary under the Official Secrets Act is highly reprehensible and disturbing. The jurisdiction of the FIA does not apply in this matter and the FIR should not have been registered,” he said while talking to reporters outside the jail premises.
Meanwhile, Shah Mahmood Qureshi will also be produced in the judicial complex today in connection with the cipher case after his two-day remand is completed today, sources said.
He will be represented in court by Qureshi’s lawyer and PTI leader Babar Awan.
Imran Khan’s lawyers feel “manipulation” in custody
The PTI chairman’s lawyers say that “tampering with justice” kept him behind bars.
According to his lawyers, the ousted prime minister – who was ousted from office last year after a vote of no confidence – was out on bail and expected to be released from the assault prison where he has been held for the past three weeks.
However, as of Tuesday afternoon, Khan remained in custody due to a previous arrest, carried out undercover, in connection with a case in which he allegedly leaked the code.
A day earlier, one of his lawyers told reporters outside the prison, which was surrounded by patrolling police units, that Khan was “in custody” and would appear before a special court in Islamabad on Wednesday.
“He was arrested before today’s court ruling. The exact date of his arrest remains unclear,” another lawyer, Gohar Khan, told AFP by phone.
Another, Muhammad Shoaib Shaheen, said “his legal team was deliberately left uninformed and kept in the dark”.
“This constitutes a perversion of justice,” he said.
Since his ouster, the PTI chairman has been implicated in more than 200 cases and was previously denied bail in at least nine other cases, including three in anti-terrorism courts and six in district courts in Islamabad.