Infostani International: In recent legal developments, the FIA prosecutor sought to stop the defense counsel’s cross-examination in the cipher case against ex-PM Imran Khan, citing delays. Simultaneously, the accountability court judge handling Toshakhana cases, Judge Mohammad Bashir, plans to withdraw his leave application. This intrigues the ongoing legal battles involving Imran Khan and high-profile references related to Toshakhana gifts and corruption.
Developments in Imran Khan’s Cipher Case and Toshakhana References: Defense Tactics, Judge’s Leave Withdrawal, and Health Concerns
On Friday, the FIA prosecutor urged the Special Court (Official Secrets Act), handling the cipher case against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, to cease the defense counsel’s right of cross-examination. The prosecutor alleged that the defense was employing delaying tactics to prolong the trial.
Judge Abual Hasnat Mohammad Zulqarnain was informed by FIA special prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi that a witness from the UAE had come for the court proceedings. Still, the defense counsel, Sikandar Zulqarnain, was absent. Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry, an associate counsel, explained that Advocate Zulqarnain couldn’t attend due to a toothache and surgery, requesting a week’s adjournment. The judge, however, adjourned the hearing to Saturday.
Simultaneously, the accountability court is set to resume Toshakhana case proceedings on Saturday. Accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir, handling two references against Imran Khan, and seeking leave preparatory to retirement, intends to withdraw the leave application in an unexpected move.
Last week, Judge Bashir applied for leave effective from Jan 24, 2024, until his retirement on March 14. He is the longest-serving accountability court judge, appointed in 2011 with consecutive extensions.
Developments in Toshakhana Cases: Judge Bashir’s Health, Adjournments, and Jurisdictional Issues
Judge Bashir was overseeing references on Toshakhana gifts and GBP190 million corruption against former PM Khan. Another reference related to Toshakhana vehicles was also pending, with former PM Nawaz Sharif, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, and former President Asif Ali Zardari as accused.
While the Toshakhana vehicles reference is monthly and recently adjourned to Feb 13, Judge Bashir conducts frequent proceedings in Toshakhana gifts and GBP190m corruption cases at Adiala Jail.
A day earlier, Khan requested an adjournment until Feb 13 and a joint hearing for both Toshakhana cases. Sources suggest that Judge Bashir submitted the leave application to the Islamabad High Court, but the Law Ministry believes the IHC is the competent forum for such matters.
Judge Bashir’s health deteriorated on Jan 15 at Adiala Jail during Toshakhana reference hearings, diagnosed with a collapse due to high blood pressure. Though not fully recovered, he presided over the proceedings the next day. Currently overseeing three accountability courts in Islamabad, Judge Bashir remains the sole available accountability judge in the capital.