Court upheld Imran Khan’s arrest warrants

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Judge infuriated on PTI chief’s undertaking for March 18 appearance
ISLAMABAD
An Islamabad court Thursday rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s plea seeking the suspension of non-bailable arrest warrants issued in the Toshakhana case.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal announced the verdict reserved earlier redirecting the authorities concerned to arrest the former prime minister and present him before the court on March 18.
He mentioned that the decision has been taken after reviewing each and every aspect of the law, hoping that the petitioners will enjoy reading the detailed verdict. The court earlier reserved the verdict on the plea seeking suspension of non-bailable arrest warrants issued against PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case. Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal conducted the day-long hearing which was adjourned twice, who earlier in the day expressed indignation as PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan filed an undertaking in the court on Thursday promising to appear in court on March 18.
When the hearing resumed for the third time on Thursday, ECP lawyer Saad Hassan and Islamabad Inspector General Dr Akbar Nasir Khan appeared in court. “IG sahab, tell us why did you not implement the arrest warrants?” ADSJ Iqbal asked. “What do you say? Should an exemption be given [to Imran] or not?”
The official replied that the Islamabad police officials, who had gone to Lahore, were not even allowed to meet Imran. “Political workers used force to stop the police.” IG Nasir elaborated that policemen were hit with stones, sticks and stones.
“Today, I have come to court on behalf of the 65 policemen who were injured [during the operation] and are in hospitals,” he said, adding that never before had the police faced something as such.
The police official further revealed that the security personnel at Zaman Park was unarmed. He presented the list of injured officers in court along with pictures from the scene.
“My opinion is that if you want to give leeway to one person then the same should be given to 22 billion people as well. The law is equal for all,” he stressed.
At this point, PTI lawyers in court interrupted in disagreement. On the other hand, the judge inquired about the damage to property during the operation to which IG Nasir said that 10 police vans and water canons were burnt down. The extent of damage is being determined in Lahore, he added.
ECP’s Hassan presenting the arguments, said that this was not the first time Imran had given an undertaking to the court, pointing out that earlier too his promises were not fulfilled. “On several occasions, even I said he should be given leverage,” he recalled. “But Imran took out a rally in Lahore … his excuses regarding security are unacceptable.”
Hassan went on to say that it was even possible for an MPA to bring 2,000 people to the streets and create a law and order situation. “I have no objections if Imran presents before the court on March 18 but he is being given extraordinary relief,” he contended, stressing that the law didn’t allow cancellation of arrest warrants without an appearance.
The lawyer further clarified that the IHC had not issued any directives to the trial court, but had in fact instructed the suspect to consult with the latter. “The only difference is that the undertaking has Imran’s signatures today,” he said.
He also recalled that went the first time police had gone to arrest Imran, they were told that he wasn’t present. “And at the second time, the police were attacked.” The lawyer highlighted that there was no difference in the undertakings Imran submitted earlier and today except for a few “spelling mistakes”, adding that even “touts” could submit such documents.
For his part, Imran’s lawyer Haris stated that the IHC had told the petitioner to take the undertaking to the trial court and approve surety after verifying it. “I haven’t talked about the cancellation of warrants, but about their suspension,” he argued. “It is just a matter of two days. Imran will appear in court on March 18.”
Subsequently, the court reserved its verdict in the case. ADSJ Zafar Iqbal said that a detailed order will be issued. “I will leave only after writing and signing the order,” he assured the respondents.
The judge also told them that there was no point in waiting in court because “I don’t know how long it will take to complete the order”.
Judge Zafar Iqbal conducted the hearing of a PTI application seeking cancellation of non-bailable arrest warrants of Imran Khan. The judged fumed as PTI lawer submitted the undertaking, inquiring “From where you derived the concept of undertaking?”
The judge asked the counsel “Tell us, where is Imran Khan?” Advocate Khawaja Haris argued was it necessary to arrest Imran Khan and then bring him to court? The judge responded “The court wants him to appear himself. What’s the reason for his absence? Imran Khan should cooperate with the police, not resist them.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Islamabad High Court while hearing the PTI’s challenge to the arrest warrants had ordered the party to submit an affidavit in the trial court. During the proceedings on Thursday, Khawaja Haris opined that after the undertaking there was no need to maintained the arrest warrants.
Haris said Imran Khan had submitted the undertaking he will be in court on March 18. However, the judge remarked Imran Khan should surrender himself now and the court will order the authorities not to arrest him.
Khawaja Haris said the concept of undertaking is derived from Section 76, on which the judge hit back saying Section 76 was about bailable warrants and not non-bailable warrants. “Had the warrants bailable then there would have been no problem but the warrants were non-bailable. Your arguments are about bailable arrest warrants.”
Khawaja Haris said “The court has two options. The applicant wants to come to come and the court should accept the undertaking and cancel the non-bailable arrest warrants. The second option is the court should issue bailable warrants by accepting surety.”
The judge further inquired the arrest warrants were issued as per law then why there was resistance? “They could have staged a peaceful protest. They should not have created such a scene.”
Judge Zafar Iqbal further remarked in criminal cases accused usually appear in court in person which normally leads to withdrawal of warrants. “There is nothing like that the police will sit idle and wait for March 18,” the judge added.
Khawaja Haris asked the court to issue notice to ECP, which filed the Toshakhana reference. The judge then announce a break in the hearing while issuing notice to the ECP officials summoning them to appear before court at 12:00 noon today. — DNA