Former prime minister Imran Khan will be indicted in the cypher case on October 17, announced the court on Monday as the hearing of the cypher case against him officially began.
The hearing was presided over by special court Judge Abdul Hasnaat Zulqarnain. Prosecutor Zulfiqar Abbas Naqvi, , Imran’s counsel Salman Safdar as well as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mehmod Qureshi’s daughter and son were also present at the hearing.
During today’s hearing at the Adiala jail, copies of the charge-sheet were distributed among Imran and Qureshi’s – his co-accused – lawyers. The PTI chief’s lawyers also met him briefly in the prison van.
Prosecutor Naqvi informed the court that all the necessary copies had been provided to the court.
Later, the court then issued directives for all government witnesses to be summoned along with the charge-sheet on October 17.
Previously, the Federal Investigation Agency (PTI) had claimed that the former PM was guilty of breaching the Official Secrets Act of 1923 and deserved to be punished as per the law.
The charge-sheet submitted by the FIA to a special court also accused Shah Mahmood Qureshi of facilitating Imran.
Last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected the FIA’s petition for holding in-camera proceedings of the bail application of the PTI chairman.
Announcing the reserved verdict on FIA’s petition, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq ruled that the matter would be heard before an open court but the documents to be kept confidential, would remain so after consulting the counsel. The court fixed the bail application hearing for October 9.
The cypher case
The cypher case concerns a diplomatic cable, which reportedly went missing from Imran’s possession. Imran had repeatedly said before and after the no-confidence motion against him last year that the cipher pointed to a conspiracy to remove him from the prime minister’s office.
Imran was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. He was incarcerated on August 5, 2023, after an Islamabad court sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case. The PTI chief was lodged in the Attock District Jail to serve his prison term.
Later, his sentence was suspended by the IHC, but then the PTI chief was arrested in the cypher case and remained in the Attock jail on judicial remand. Later, a special court was formed under Official Secrets Act to try Imran inside the jail premises.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was the foreign minister in the Imran-led government, is also implicated in the case. In the last hearing of the case on September 26, their judicial remand was extended till October 10.
‘Imran’s lost confidence in legal system’
PTI chief’s counsel Sher Afzal Marwat while talking to the media ahead of the hearing said that Imran told him that he has confidence in the country’s legal system.
Criticising the PTI chief and former foreign minister being held inside a prison van, the lawyer said that the accused were brought to court in a “small cage”. “This is inhumane,” he stated. Marwat said that bitter words were exchanged between the prosecutor and Imran’s lawyers.
The IHC’s decision regarding holding an in-camera trial of the cypher case was expected soon, he said, “The judge ordered Imran to sign the copy of the challan (charge-sheet), but we resisted and protested,” Marwat stated, adding that “the PTI chairman did not sign the ‘duplicate document’”.
Moreover, Salman Safdar, Imran’s counsel in the cypher case said that the former premier has protested the “inhuman” treatment being given to him at Adiala jail. Safdar said that Imran wanted facilities as per the jail manual. He wants space for movement and exercise in the jail room, said Safdar.
“This is not a fair trial, people, and we do not accept it,” the lawyer added. The PTI chairman did not receive the copy; he did not sign it because cypher cases cannot be heard in “closed rooms”.
Ahad Cheema acquitted in NAB reference
An accountability court on Friday acquitted Ahad Cheema, the special assistant to the caretaker prime minister, in assets beyond means reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Accountability Judge Ali Zulqarnain had reserved the ruling on the acquittal plea after hearing arguments of the NAB prosecutor and the defence counsel earlier in the day. Cheema also appeared before the court during the proceedings.
On Nov 27, in a supplementary report, NAB informed the court that Cheema’s assets were consistent with his known income, asserting that properties held by alleged benamidars/relatives were not his. Based on evidence, the case under NAO, 1999, was not substantiated, it added.
Cheema had served as the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general during the PML-N government in Punjab. The bureau had arrested Cheema in 2018 when he appeared before a joint investigation team in connection with the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme case.
Later, NAB initiated assets beyond means and other inquiries against him. However, Cheema obtained bail in three cases, including assets beyond means case in 2021.
Bilawal consults legal minds on ZAB reference
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday consulted legal minds of his party on the presidential reference case of his late grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The development came during a meeting of central and provincial officials as well as legal experts of the Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF) at Zardari House here. Bilawal chaired the meeting.
During the meeting, the PLF officials briefed Bilawal on the presidential reference case of ZAB. Farooq H Naik and Shahadat Awan participated in the meeting through video link while Qazi Bashir, Bahram Khan Tareen, Raheel Kamran Cheema, Sajid Tanoli, Gohar Rehman Khattak, Ghiyasul Haque and Asrar Abbasi were present.
Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Faisal Karim Kundi, Raza Rabbani and Amna Paracha were also present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, a civil society delegation also met with Bilawal and discussed the challenges faced by the masses and their solutions.
Bilawal appreciated the delegation for their services and performance in their respective fields.
Ahmed Faraz Khan Advocate, Barrister Saifullah Ghori, Bilal Tariq Khan, Dr Abdul Mohiman, Dr Maria Hamid, Dr Salma Malik, Faheem Sardar, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir, Huma Fawad, Jahanzeb Durrani and Kanwal Malik were among those who met the PPP chairman.
Lubna Bhayat, SM Tariq, Javed Akhtar, Pir Mohammad Anwar, Junaid, Raja Mohammad Khan, Sania Kamran, Shehbaz Zaheer, Shamamata Al Ambararbab, Buland Sohail, Kashaf Ahmed, Talha Rahmani, Osama Malik, Usman Iqbal Bandal and Yusuf Masih were part of the delegation. PPP Information Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi was also present on this occasion.
SC to take up appeals against military trial verdict on Dec 13
The Supreme Court is set to take up high-profile cases in the coming week, including the appeals against its verdict in the trial of civilians in military courts and pleas filed by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.
A Supreme Court larger bench will hear on Dec 13 the intra-court appeals against its judgment in the case of civilians being tried in military courts. The appeals have been filed by the caretaker governments and the defence ministry.
On Oct 23, a five-judge bench of the SC unanimously declared the trial of civilians in military courts as null and void and ordered that the 103 accused in cases relating to the violence on May 9 and 10 be tried under ordinary criminal laws.
Moreover, Justice Naqvi, who is facing complaints of misconduct, recently wrote a letter to the top court’s three senior-most judges’ panel to point out the silence over his petitions challenging the issuance of a show-cause notice to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) despite the lapse of time as stipulated in the SC (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023.
A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Musarrat Hilali, will hear his petitions on December 15.
A nine-member larger bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa will take up a presidential reference for revisiting the judgment wherein the death sentence of PPP founder and former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was endorsed.
The bench will conduct its proceedings in courtroom No. 1 on December 12. These decisions were made by the SC three-member committee comprising CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
The other high-profile cases that will be tackled by the SC in the coming week include the evacuation of illegal Afghan residents, reclassification of commercial land in Karachi, and reinstatement of the FIR against PTI leader Moonis Elahi.
The top court has scheduled the hearing for petitions challenging the evacuation of foreign nationals, especially Afghan citizens, residing unlawfully in the country.
A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Masood, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ayesha Malik, will hear these pleas on December 12.
Farhatullah Babar, Mushtaq Ahmed, Amina Masood Janjua, Mohsin Dawar, Jibran Nasir, Syed Muaz Shah, Pastor Ghazala Parveen, Imaan Zainab Mazari, Ahmad Shabbar, Advocate Imran Shafiq, Luke Victor, Sijal Shafiq, and Rohail Kasi are contesting the evacuation orders.
In a separate case, the dismissal of a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) case against PTI’s Moonis by a special judge in Lahore and then the upholding of that decision by the Lahore High Court, has been challenged in the SC.
The FIA has filed an appeal against the dismissal, leading to a review in the apex court.
Moreover, the SC, previously deliberating on the powers of the caretaker government, directed the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) to assist the court in forming a larger bench to interpret its authority.
In addition, review petitions challenging the decision on the reclassification of land in Karachi to commercial status will be heard in the coming week as well. A three-judge bench, led by Justice Ahsan, is scheduled to hear the matter on December 11.
The court has issued notices to all relevant parties, including the Sindh government, following its earlier ruling invalidating the conversion of public land into residential and commercial categories.
These petitions stem from a challenge initiated in 2010 by former Karachi nazim Niamatullah Khan against the alteration of public land’s categorisation.
A five-judge bench, led by CJP Isa, will also take up on December 14 former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s petition against his removal.
It is expected that the proceedings of both Bhutto and the ex-IHC judge’s cases will be available on the SC website.
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