(CTN NEWS) – On Wednesday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected an immediate suspension of the sentence handed down to Imran Khan, the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in the Toshakhana case.
A bench composed of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri heard Imran Khan’s appeal against his conviction and issued notices to relevant parties.
The PTI had contested the three-year prison term and Rs100,000 fine imposed by an additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) in Islamabad. The case was filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Following the verdict announcement on Saturday, Imran Khan was arrested at his Lahore residence on the same day and transferred to Attock District Jail, where he has commenced his prison sentence.
During the IHC hearing, lawyers representing Imran Khan, including Latif Khosa, Khawaja Haris, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, and Babar Awan, appeared before the court.
Khosa informed the court that a member of their legal team had been detained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for eight hours. Awan requested the court to issue an order preventing harassment of the lawyers.
The chief justice informed the lawyers that Sher Afzal Marwat, another member of Imran Khan’s legal team, had brought this matter to his attention and assured that he was investigating the issue.
Legal Debate Unfolds: Khosa Advocates for Imran Khan’s Defense Amidst Controversial Verdict
Marwat revealed that while he was present at the Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), he discovered that a First Information Report (FIR) had been filed against him.
The chief justice reassured the lawyer, advising them not to worry.
Khosa, while presenting his argument regarding Imran Khan’s punishment by ADSJ Humayun Dilawar, stated that the trial court judge had imposed a three-year prison sentence and a fine of Rs100,000.
Khosa pointed out that this was the maximum sentence announced by the trial court in the case. He further emphasized that the PTI chief’s right to a defense had been denied, and their appeal against this decision was pending before the IHC.
“Despite the pending matter of the right to defense, a decision was rendered. The judge indeed pronounced the maximum sentence of three years and a fine of Rs100,000,” Khosa added, urging action against such a judge.
Khosa additionally contended that the ADSJ should have awaited the completion of proceedings in the high court. He highlighted that it was unprecedented for a lower court to make a decision while a case was under consideration in the high court.
Khosa requested the court to suspend the PTI chairman’s punishment and order his release. He argued that a three-year sentence was considered a short one and therefore should be suspended.
However, the bench requested the trial court records and issued notices to relevant parties for their responses. The bench noted its intention to hear from the ECP as well.
Khawaja Haris Highlights Trial Irregularities and Pleads for Suspension of PTI Chief’s Sentence
Khosa then requested a further hearing on Thursday, but the chief justice informed that he would not be available on that day.
Next, Khawaja Haris addressed the bench, stating that the trial court had conducted daily hearings for the case. He revealed that the trial court had delivered the judgment without allowing him to present his arguments.
Haris explained that he had arrived at the trial court at 12:15, only to be informed that the verdict would be announced at 12:30. When the judge came to announce the judgment, Haris was at the rostrum.
“I approached the judge, but he refused to listen to me. Shouldn’t the court have given us a chance to be heard? Can a verdict be delivered without hearing the accused and their lawyer?” Haris questioned.
Haris criticized the judge’s approach to the proceedings, stating that they were running a trial while simultaneously challenging it in the high court.
He raised the significant issue of the alleged detention of his clerk, recounting instances of harassment in both the Supreme Court and the high court. Haris disclosed that he had lodged a complaint with the apex court.
While requesting the suspension of the PTI chief’s sentence, Haris noted concerns about the potential cancellation of his bail in other cases.
The chief justice referred to a precedent set in Asif Zardari’s case, indicating that arrest in one case wouldn’t necessarily lead to arrest in others.
Despite the PTI lawyers’ insistence on a Thursday hearing, the chief justice clarified that this wouldn’t be possible but assured them that the hearing would not be delayed beyond court holidays.
The chief justice projected that the case would be taken up in four or five days, highlighting that matters involving sentence suspension and bail cases were scheduled during judges’ vacations.
Ultimately, the hearing was adjourned.
Chief Justice Amir Farooq separately addressed the PTI chairman’s request for improved facilities in jail. He directed that the PTI chief should receive facilities in accordance with the Jail Manual.
PTI Chairman’s lawyer, Sher Afzal Marwat, argued that he had visited Attock Jail on Tuesday as ordered by the court, but he was denied access to his client. Marwat conveyed that the PTI chairman was confined to a 9×5 cell.
Marwat asserted that there was no valid reason for keeping the PTI chairman in Attock Jail. The chief justice questioned who would make the decision regarding transferring the PTI chief to another jail.
The court issued notices and adjourned the hearing until August 11.
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