Supreme Court asks authorities to present Imran Khan in court by 4:30pm

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The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Inspector General (IG) Islamabad Police Dr Akbar Nasir Khan to present Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan by 4:30pm.

The directives come after Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial termed the PTI leader’s arrest from the premises of Islamabad High Court (IHC) as a mighty disgrace to the country’s judicial establishment.

The CJP passed the remark while heading a three-member bench hearing PTI’s petition challenging the arrest of party chief Imran Khan. Apart from the CJP, the bench also includes Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar.

At the outset of the hearing, former premier’s lawyer Hamid Khan informed the court that Imran Khan had come to IHC in order to secure an extension in his interim bail. When the PTI chief was getting his verification done, Rangers personnel broke into the room.

“Rangers misbehaved with Imran Khan and arrested him,” he added.

At this, CJP Bandial inquired about the case in which Imran Khan was seeking the bail extension.

On this point, Justice Athar Minallah inquired if a plea can be filed before the bio-metric verification is conducted.

At this, the lawyer said that Imran Khan went for bio-metric verification because a plea cannot be filed before that.

“Why did NAB take the law in its hand? It would have been better for NAB to seek permission from IHC registrar,” Justice Minallah asked.

He said that every citizen has the right to get justice and the apex court had to ensure its provision. The judge also regretted the current situation in the country.

“Where did the sanctity of the court go with the arrest from the court premises,” CJP Bandial remarked.

Meanwhile, the CJP asked the number of personnel who arrested Imran Khan.

At this, Imran Khan’s lawyer Salman Safdar informed the court that 80-100 men were there to arrest the PTI chief.

“What was left of the honour of the court when 90 people entered the court premises. NAB has disrespected the court,” CJP Bandial said, adding that no one would feel safe inside a court anymore.

“No one can be arrested from the high court, Supreme Court or accountability court. Imran Khan’s arrest violated the judicial sanctity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Justice Minallah remarked that no one would come to the court if such arrests are made a norm.

“A person who has surrendered before a court cannot be arrested,” he added.

CJP Bandial then remarked that the court will review the legality of the NAB warrant and compliance on it.

“The right to surrender before the court cannot be sabotaged,” CJP added.

Meanwhile, Safdar informed the court that Imran Khan is on the “target list of terrorists” and his security was withdrawn. He also informed the court that NAB’s investigation officer wasn’t present at the time of arrest.

“There is no example of the way in which rangers arrested Imran Khan,” said Safdar.

At this, Justice Minallah remarked that the anti-graft watchdog had been doing the same with different people for years.

Khan’s lawyer Safdar then told the bench that they got to know after the arrest that the warrants were issued on May 1. He added that interior secretary informed the court the PTI chief had not received the warrant.

When asked what did the complainant seek, lawyer Hamid Khan requested the apex court to order Imran Khan’s release.

“Illegal work cannot be ignored,” CJP Bandial remarked, adding access to justice is the right of every citizen.

Meanwhile, lawyer Hamid Khan maintained that Imran Khan was not accompanied by any activist or a party supporter on May 9.

At this point, Justice Mazhar inquired if Imran Khan had responded to NAB notices.

Replying to the query, the PTI chief’s lawyer said that a response had been sent to NAB.

He contended that a person cannot be arrested during an inquiry and NAB was bound to notify the accused upon completion of inquiry.

When asked if Imran Khan joined the investigations, his other lawyer Shoaib Shaheen said that they were about to send a response.

“NAB’s arrest warrant is illegal,” he contended.

At this, Justice Mazhar remarked that the case was on the compliance on NAB’s arrest warrant, not of the legality of the warrant. He also asked why the PTI chief had not challenged warrant and become part of the investigations.

Meanwhile, Justice Minallah remarked that NAB only wanted to make others follow the law but “it was evident that Imran Khan had also not complied to the NAB’s notice”.

Meanwhile, Justice Mazhar remarked that Imran Khan sent a respond to NAB in May for the notice he received in march.

At this, the lawyer said that Imran Khan received only one notice.

“Justice Mazhar is talking about the implementation of law,” Justice Minallah remarked. He further asked if NAB had sought the registrar high court’s permission for the arrest.

NAB Prosecutor General Asghar Haider responded that the watchdog sought the interior ministry’s help for the implementation of the arrest warrant.

“Did the interior ministry implement the arrest warrant in the court premises?” asked Justice Minallah.

At this, the NAB official maintained that the implementation on the NAB warrant was done while taking the ministry on board.

“NAB has not learned its lesson in many years. There are many allegations against NAB including political engineering,” Justice Minallah remarked, adding that the watchdog has destroyed the country.

At this, NAB lawyer Sardar Muzaffar said that the court should also see Imran Khan’s conduct as he had showed resistance in the past.

CJP Bandial remarked that as per NAB the federal government had decided the procedure of compliance.

“Was any NAB officer present at the time of arrest,” he asked.

However, the NAB officials failed to respond to this question.

Haider maintained that he wasn’t aware of all the facts as he had just been appointed. He said that even a private person can also execute warrant.

At this, Justice Minallah remarked that NAB itself continues to execute its warrant.

Meanwhile, CJP Bandial remarked that the warrant was issued on May 1 while the arrest was made on May 9.

“Why did NAB not try to make the arrest for eight days. Did NAB want to arrest Imran Khan from the court,” the top judge asked. He also asked that why the letter was written to the interior ministry on May 8.

Meanwhile, Justice Minallah inquired how many notices did Imran Khan receive.

At this, NAB prosecutor said that only one notice had been sent to Imran Khan.

“It seems, NAB’s warrant was not in accordance with the law,” Justice Minallah observed. He asked if an attempt had been made for the arrest after the warrant was issued.

“Imran Khan was in Lahore, why didn’t NAB ask the Punjab government for the execution of warrant,” he asked.

SC admits plea for hearing

The PTI had filed a petition in the Supreme Court a day earlier challenging the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision calling party chief Imran Khan’s arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) “legal”.

Initially, the petition was returned to the PTI after registrar’s office attached objections to the plea.

The registrar’s office stated that the PTI chief did not approach the relevant forum, adding that he could file an intra-court appeal.

It further stated that the petition did not have the signatures of the PTI chief.

But, later on Wednesday, the PTI addressed the objections of the registrar’s office and it was accepted for a hearing.

Following Khan’s arrest on Tuesday inside the IHC, the PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi summoned an emergency meeting of the seven-member committee to review the situation and devise a comprehensive strategy to secure the safe and early release of the party chair.

The senior PTI leader had announced the party’s plan to move the apex court.

IHC terms Imran Khan’s arrest ‘legal’ in Al-Qadir Trust case

On Tuesday, the IHC termed the arrest of the PTI chairman “legal” in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq — who had raised questions over the Rangers’ move to arrest Khan from the court’s premises earlier in the day — announced the reserved verdict.

The IHC also issued notices to the Islamabad inspector general of police and the interior secretary over contempt of court.

The chief justice ordered the high court registrar to get a first information report (FIR) registered over the circumstances of the arrest, which included manhandling the lawyers present nearby as well as damage to the court building.

He also instructed the registrar to conduct an inquiry and submit a report by May 16.

Khan — who has been embroiled in dozens of cases pending since he was ousted last year — was arrested inside the premises of the high court when he appeared before the court in two cases.

His came hours after the military rebuked the former international cricketer for alleging a senior officer had been involved in a plot to kill him.

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