A division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday granted Chairman Imran Khan two-week bail in the Al-Qadir Trust case, a day after the Supreme Court termed his arrest from the IHC premises “invalid and unlawful”.
A division bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz heard the PTI chief’s bail plea at courtroom No.2.
DawnNewsTV reported that Imran’s lawyers had also filed four additional pleas which urged the IHC to club all the cases against Imran and to direct authorities to provide details of the cases registered against him.
The hearing had initially begun after a nearly two-hour delay with media reporting that officials were conducting a security sweep outside the courtroom.
But they were halted shortly after they began at 1pm on account of Friday prayers. On the other hand, media reported that judges had left the courtroom after “pro-Imran” slogans were raised.
When the hearing resumed after 2:30pm, Imran was present in the courtroom alongside his legal team and his lawyer Khawaja Haris presented his arguments.
Haris contended before the court that the action undertaken by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was illegal. He said that NAB could only issue an arrest warrant after the inquiry had formally been turned into an investigation.
He said that the PTI had gotten to know that NAB had formally initiated an investigation against Imran through media reports. He also said that PTI chief had approached the IHC on May 9 seeking the NAB report in the inquiry, but he was arrested before he could enter the courtroom.
At one point during the hearing, the court asked the petitioner if he was provided a questionnaire in connection with the case, to which Haris replied in negative.
He said that Imran was issued a call-up notice which he did not appear for, but submitted a written reply instead. Haris further said that the accountability watchdog was “biased” at the moment.
The court then accepted Imran’s bail plea and also instructed the NAB prosecutor general and Imran’s lawyers to be prepared at the next hearing, saying that it would then decide if Imran’s bail should be cancelled or extended.
Imran says he was hit on the head during arrest
In an informal conversation with journalists at the IHC, Imran said that NAB officials treated him “fine” but hastened to add that he was hit on the head while being arrested.
He further said that he was also not able to get in touch with his wife Bushra Bibi. “I asked the NAB team to let me talk [to her]. They let me talk to her on the landline,” he said.
Talking about violent protests in the country, he said, “How could I have stopped whatever happened? I had already told [you] that there would be a reaction to the arrest.
“When I was [taken into custody], then how can I be responsible?” the former premier asked.
In a video shared on social media by Independent Urdu, Imran further said: “I was sitting in the high court. They had no reason to arrest me. I was abducted.
“And there they showed me the warrant for the first time when they took me to jail. This happens in the law of the jungle and the army abducts. Where did the police go? Where did the law go?” he asked.
“When I reached the court yesterday, I found out for the first time that 40 helpless people have lost their lives in this. I did not even know about this,” he added.
Awan says Punjab police headed to Islamabad to arrest Imran in ‘new cases’
Talking to the media outside the IHC after the break in proceedings due to Friday prayers, PTI lawyer Babar Awan claimed that a police team from Lahore had left for Islamabad to arrest Imran in “new cases”.
“There are two to three people in the incumbent administration who are worried because if Imran Khan is released, their jobs will be in danger,” he alleged, adding that this was why Punjab police had been called to the capital.
Awan reiterated there were threats to Imran’s life, adding that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had also said the same. “Why are they then so adamant to arrest Imran? Let me tell you, any attempt to arrest Imran again will be unconstitutional.”
The lawyer also alleged that “special people” were hired to “hunt” the PTI chief and said that those who sent the ex-prime minister to jail were responsible for the violence in the country.
“Before Imran Khan was sent to jail […] the country’s situation was in front of you. Today, the situation has escalated at the hands of those who were struck out by the Supreme Court […] and that is NAB,” Awan added.
Imran arrives at IHC
The PTI chairman had arrived at the IHC shortly after 11:30am amid tight security and was then taken for his biometrics. Footage aired on television showed police and Rangers officials deployed outside the court premises and barbed wire placed in front of the gate.
Footage from outside the IHC showed a large number of lawyers shouting slogans expressing solidarity with the PTI chief.
Meanwhile, Islamabad police said that all unnecessary people had been removed from outside the court premises. It added that DIG Operations Shahzad Bukhari was overseeing the process.
Imran was whisked away from the IHC premises by paramilitary forces on Tuesday in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case — which alleges that Imran and his wife obtained billions of rupees and land worth hundreds of kanals from Bahria Town illegally — leading to violent protests across the country.
The PTI chief had immediately approached the high court for release but it had declared his arrest legal, following which he had approached the Supreme Court.
Police say Section 144 in force in Islamabad
Ahead of the hearing, the PTI said that “peaceful” supporters would gather at the Srinagar Highway in Islamabad’s G-13 to express solidarity with the ex-premier. The party also said that Imran would make a speech after his court appearance.
The party announcement came despite the fact that Islamabad police late on Thursday night issued a statement saying that Section 144, which bans public gatherings, was still imposed in the capital and requested political workers not to “obstruct the legal process”.
“We request those giving calls for protests in Islamabad tomorrow not to cause disturbance of peace,” it said in a tweet, adding that legal action would be taken against those inciting the public.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Thursday that authorities would arrest Imran again.
“We will arrest him again. If he gets bail from the high court tomorrow, we will wait for the cancellation of bail and arrest him again,” he told Dunya TV.
SC terms Imran’s arrest ‘unlawful’
On Thursday, the Supreme Court had directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and police to ensure “foolproof” security for Imran until his appearance before the high court.
The court said it took up the case since the right to access to justice was denied and the sanctity and safety of the high court were violated. The court observed that the arrest was illegal and said the entire process needed to be backtracked since a citizen enjoyed certain guarantees, particularly access to justice, on the court premises.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said Imran being a senior leader should consider opening up a dialogue channel with his political opponents “whom he may not like but they are a reality” as this would restore confidence among the people.
Later, in a three-page order, the detailed reasons for which will come later, the apex court said the manner of execution of the arrest warrant issued by the NAB chairman in the Al Qadir Trust case on the IHC premises against Imran was invalid and unlawful.
“The execution of the warrant violated Khan’s right of access to justice and the sanctity and safety of the court as he had already surrendered to the court for seeking judicial relief against the action taken by NAB in the Al Qadir Trust case.”
In this regard, the fundamental rights of the petitioner under Articles 4, 9, 10-A and 14 of the constitution have been infringed, the order said, adding the petitioner was directed to be produced before IHC on May 12 (today) at 11am for hearing of his case filed to challenge the NAB action in the Al Qadir Trust case.
The NAB authorities and the police will ensure foolproof security to the petitioner until his production in the high court today, the order said, adding that the IHC registrar would place the matter before the IHC CJ for constituting a bench for hearing the case.
The SC said the PTI chairman would remain at Police Lines Headquarters under the protection of the police till his appearance in the high court.