IHC hears intra-court appeal against PTI chairman’s jail trial

cipher case

ISLAMABAD: In a significant legal development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) conducted a hearing on the intra-court appeal challenging the jail trial of the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the cipher case.

The bench, composed of Justice Mian Gul Hasan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rifat Imtiaz, presided over the proceedings.

During the hearing, Chairman PTI’s lawyer, Salman Akram Raja, approached the rostrum to present arguments. Raja requested the Anti-Terrorism Court judge to dismiss the court charge under the Official Secrets Act.

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He also highlighted concerns about the appointment process of the judge, revealing that the government had assigned the Official Secrets Act court charge to a specific judge even though there were many other options of lower court judges as well.

Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb responded and said that the decision to appoint the judge was initiated by the IHC. “The record was produced before this Court by the Additional Attorney General,” Justice Miangul said, adding “We have seen the documents. The process for appointment was initiated by Islamabad High Court”.

Counsel Salman Akram Raja said that the said documents were never presented to him or his team during the proceedings.

Justice Aurangzeb reiterated that the court had the same questions as the counsel, vis a vis the appointment of the judge, but then after seeing the documents, the situation was clarified.

Justice Aurangzeb pointed to the question of admissibility, prompting PTI’s counsel to first respond to the Attorney General’s objection on the appeal’s admissibility, before raising more questions on judges appointment etc.

Salman Akram Raja provided a timeline of events, stating that Chairman PTI was remanded in open court on August 16 while he was in Attock Jail. He added that a notification barring electronic media from mentioning Chairman PTI’s name was issued on August 29 to prevent him from being brought into the public eye.

“These arguments are for later. First, give your arguments on whether the appeal is admissible,” Justice Miangul Hasan said in response.

IHC has extended the injunction on the jail trial of the cipher case till tomorrow. After hearing the arguments of the council, the court adjourned the hearing till tomorrow.

The bench also sought notification of the appointment of the special court judge and also called for reports on security concerns tomorrow.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Meanwhile, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi has approached the Supreme Court to apply for post-arrest bail in cipher case.

The petition requests that the decision of the IHC on November 8 should be annulled. IHC did not properly evaluate the facts, the petition argues, adding that a baseless and political case has been made against the petitioner. The Federal Government and the Ministry of Interior have been made parties in the petition.

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