The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has kept its verdict pending on the petition filed by former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan challenging the decision to hold the cypher case hearing within the premises of Attock jail.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Aamer Farooq presided and listened to the arguments presented by Imran Khan’s lawyer, Sher Afzal Marwat. Marwat read out a notification from the Ministry of Law before the court.
Imran’s legal representative questioned the legal basis and authority under which the Ministry of Law had authorized the relocation of the case’s hearing to Attock Jail. Marwat argued, “The transfer of a trial from Islamabad to Punjab can only be done legally by the Supreme Court, not by the chief commissioner or home secretary.”
Furthermore, Marwat contended that if a change in the trial venue was warranted, a petition should have been filed with the trial judge. He also emphasized that Imran Khan was being held “unlawfully” in Attock Jail, given that he had been granted bail in the Toshakhana case. Marwat asserted, “There is no valid reason to detain the PTI chairman in Attock Jail.”
Marwat went on to allege that there was malicious intent behind the decision to relocate the cypher case hearing. He stated, “The motive behind this change of venue notification is to keep the PTI chairman incarcerated. We have not been provided with any explanation for the issuance of this notification.”
The lawyer also pointed out that any trial involving a civilian registered under the Official Secret Acts should be held in a special court, as stipulated by the law. Marwat concluded by urging the court to apply the law appropriately to Imran Khan’s case.
Following the conclusion of Imran’s counsel’s arguments against holding the trial in jail, Additional Attorney General Mansoor Iqbal Dogal clarified that the notification regarding the jail trial was a one-time occurrence and that this exception rendered Imran’s petition ineffective.
He stated, “The Ministry of Law only issued the NOC. The change of venue in the cypher case was a one-time event.” The court had previously requested an explanation from the Ministry of Law and Justice regarding the notification.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the IHC has not yet issued its decision on the petition.