In a recent development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued a stay order against the jail trial of Imran Khan, the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in the cipher case.
The decision was announced by a two-member bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, during the hearing of Imran Khan’s intra-court appeal against the trial in Adiala jail.
This decision follows the approval by the caretaker federal cabinet for the jail trial of the former Prime Minister and PTI Vice Chairman, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in the same case. The cabinet granted assent to the Ministry of Law’s summary, citing security concerns for the trial to take place in Adiala jail.
During the court hearing, Attorney General Mansoor Awan presented arguments, stating that the federal cabinet had approved Imran Khan’s jail trial, and the notification would be presented before the court. Justice Aurangzeb emphasized that all trials should be held in open court, and if it’s a jail trial, it should be considered extraordinary.
The Attorney General insisted that it was not an extraordinary trial but just a jail trial. He mentioned seeking records from relevant agencies to present before the court. However, the judge pointed out that the notifications were not in accordance with the relevant rules of the high court.
Raja, Imran Khan’s counsel, informed the court that five witnesses were still in jail to record their statements. The judge raised questions about the decision-making process leading to the jail trial and the circumstances surrounding it.
The judge noted that there was a precedent of a jail trial in Indira Gandhi’s murder case, where journalists were allowed to cover it. The IHC then adjourned the hearing on the intra-court appeal against the jail trial until November 16.
Imran Khan, the deposed prime minister, had previously moved the IHC against the jail trial, which was rejected by a single bench on October 16. The court directed him to approach the trial court if reservations persisted. Later, Khan filed an intra-court appeal against the single bench’s decision.
In August of the same year, Khan and Qureshi were booked under the Official Secrets Act 1923 in the cipher case, following the Federal Investigation Agency’s invocation of Section 5 of the law. The case revolves around a missing diplomatic cable from Imran’s possession, which reportedly contained a threat from the United States to topple the PTI’s government. Both Khan and Qureshi have been indicted by the special court and are currently in Adiala jail.