LHC finally granted interim protective bail to Imran Khan


LAHORE: Soon after his court appearance followed by a number of adjournments, the Lahore High Court (LHC) finally on Monday granted interim protective bail to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan till March 3 in a terror case registered against him over alleged vandalism during protests in Islamabad against his disqualification by the Election commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The ousted prime minister, who was removed from power via a no-confidence move, was booked in the terror case in October last year after the Toshakhana verdict was announced by the ECP, sparking countrywide protests.

On February 16, a two-member bench of the LHC threw out Khan’s plea seeking protective bail in a terror case registered against him over alleged vandalism during the protests in Islamabad against his disqualification by the ECP over his non-appearance.

The FIR stated that the PTI activists pelted stones at the police, FC, and administration officials, injuring several. It stated that the protesters tried to ram their cars into police with the intention of murder, set trees on fire in Faizabad and the surrounding areas and tried to harm government property. The terror case was lodged on the state's behalf at Islamabad’s Sangjani police station.

Earlier Khan’s counsel filed another plea seeking the PTI chief’s interim protective bail in the case. 

After multiple adjournments, a two member-bench of the LHC — headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi resumed hearing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s bail plea.

Advocate Khawaja Tariq Rahim, Khan’s counsel, apprised the bench that the former prime minister was present in the court’s premises and pleaded with the court to mark the attendance of the wounded leader in his vehicle.

Referring to the rush inside the court’s premises, the lawyer said that Khan’s plaster would damage if someone pushes him.

“Suspect’s appearance in court is mandatory for interim bail,” remarked the judge.

Earlier Khan’s counsel, in view of the PTI’s workers massive rush inside the court’s premises, pleaded with the court to mark the attendance of the injured leader in his vehicle but the court turned down the request.

Khan appeared before the court along with his counsel after the adjournment and sought a protective bail in the terror case.

Taking the rostrum at the outset of the hearing, Khan said that he had to undergo x-rays on February 28. He pleaded with the court to grant him a two-week protective bail.

The PTI leader also said that he respects the courts. Meanwhile, the court granted him interim bail till March 3.

Separately, a single bench of the LHC wrapped up hearing after Imran Kahn withdrew his plea seeking protective bail in a case registered against him over protests outside the ECP following his disqualification in the Toshakhana case.

Khan had moved the high court after an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad cancelled his bail in the case over non-appearance on February 15. Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh heard the case.

At the previous hearing on February 16. The single-member bench of the LHC ordered the PTI chairman to appear before it on February 20 (today) at 2pm.

During the course of today's proceedings, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, in a bid to maintain the decorum of the court, directed to vacate half of the courtroom. The judge expressed his annoyance and went back to his chamber when the lawyers turned a deaf ear to his direction.

On the occasion, Azhar Siddique offered selfies with Khan in return of vacating the courtroom.

Later, the judge returned to the courtroom and resumed hearing of the case.

Sheikh told Khan that he signed different signatures on the bail plea.

Expressing his regret, the PTI chairman said that the first plea was filed without his approval and sign.

“You should be careful about it,” remarked the judge.

The deposed prime minister replied that when he came to know about it, he directed his lawyer to withdraw the plea. Meanwhile, the court wrapped up the case as the PTI chairman withdrew his bail plea.

Earlier, taking note of Khan’s absence despite orders, Justice Sheikh inquired where the PTI chief was as he was asked to appear in court at 2pm.

Khan’s lawyer told the court that his client was on his way and was late due to security issues.

Justice Sheikh stated that resolving the security issues was not his problem and then adjourned the hearing once again.

When the hearing resumed again, Khan’s counsel said that there was traffic on Mall Road that is why the PTI chief was late. He added that the police had communicated to them that Mall Road would remain free from traffic but there was a traffic jam.

The lawyer then told the court that his client does not see himself "bigger than the high court", adding that the PTI chief will come but arrangements need to be made.

When the judge pressed the counsel to explain the reasons why his client is not appearing, the lawyer said a perception is being created that Imran Khan doesn't want to appear before the court.

"Let me issue a show cause notice and fix a date after three weeks," the judge remarked. At this, the counsel said Khan will come tomorrow.

"Not this early," the judge responded, asking the counsel to let him write down the order as "you are making fun of law".

The LHC judge noted, "Imran Khan is a leader, a role model and should remain so."

At this, the counsel promised to produce Imran Khan by 5pm. The judge then said, “This is the last chance for Imran Khan as the court had already granted him concession”.

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