Infostani International: In a recent development, the caretaker government challenges the Islamabad High Court’s ruling on November 21 against the legality of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s jail trial in the cipher case. The petition, filed by the ministries of law and interior, argues jurisdictional overreach. This legal dispute follows events involving the suspension of Imran Khan’s sentence in the Toshakhana case and subsequent proceedings in the cipher case. Let’s explore the key details of this unfolding legal controversy.
Government Challenges Islamabad High Court Verdict on Imran Khan’s Cipher Case: A Detailed Overview
On Friday, the caretaker government took the matter to the Supreme Court, challenging the Islamabad High Court’s decision on November 21 that declared the jail trial of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the cipher case as illegal. The ministries of law and interior, filing the petition, argue that the IHC order exceeded jurisdiction and did not comply with the law.
It’s important to note that on August 29, the IHC temporarily suspended Imran Khan’s sentence in the Toshakhana case. However, a special court under the Official Secrets Act had directed the jail authorities to keep Imran in “judicial lockup” in the cipher case. On the same day, the law ministry issued a notification stating that Imran’s trial in the cipher case at Attock jail had no objection from the Law and Justice Division. They transferred Imran to Adiala jail in September.
The Federal Investigation Agency’s charge sheet alleges that Imran did not return a diplomatic document in the cipher case. The PTI claims that the document contained a threat from the United States to remove Imran as prime minister.
Imran and his aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi were indicted in the case on Oct 23, pleading not guilty. However, on Nov 21, the IHC declared Imran’s intra-court appeal against a single-member bench’s decision approving his jail trial as maintainable. The bench termed the government’s notification for a jail trial “erroneous” and annulled the entire proceedings. Consequently, the court nullified the indictments in the case, and it conducted the trial again in open court, framing charges against them for a second time on Dec 14.
Legal Challenge to Islamabad High Court Verdict: Government Questions Legality of Jail Trial and Appeals Maintainability in Cipher Case
The petition filed in the apex court, available with Dawn.com, names Imran, FIA director general, Islamabad police chief, district magistrate/deputy commissioner of Islamabad, Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain of the special court, and superintendents of Adiala and Attock jails as respondents. The government questioned the legality of the IHC proceedings and the maintainability of Imran’s appeal, arguing that the high court’s order was not sustainable and had exceeded the prayer made in the petition.
The plea also emphasized that the Official Secrets Act does not revolve around revealing secrets, and unauthorized disclosure of secrets during public judicial proceedings may jeopardize national security. It further contended that the principle of open trial in a secret matter like a cipher is injurious to the entire legal framework.
In its order on November 21, the IHC declared that the law ministry’s notification of August 29 for the jail trial lacked lawful authority and had no legal effect. The court determined that it did not meet the requirements for conducting the trial in jail, as outlined in Section 352 of the Criminal Procedure Code and relevant rules. The court voided the subsequent notifications for the jail trial, concluding that it could not term the trial conducted in jail premises as an open trial and considered it vitiated.