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IHC wants to know if Imran trusts courts

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday sought a reply from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan over whether he trusts the courts or not.

Chief Justice (CJ) Minallah’s order came during the hearing of a petition filed by former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, challenging the registration of blasphemy cases against the PTI leadership.

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The IHC CJ refused to conduct the hearing, stating that the advocate, Faisal Chaudhry, must first ask the party leadership whether they trusted the court.

“The narrative that the Supreme Court and the high courts are compromised is still being spread,” Justice Minallah observed. “This court can work for 24 hours a day,” he said, asking if the petitioner had any objection the court may look into.

He added that the petitioners had till today (Tuesday) to give a response. “If you don’t trust the court, let me know,” the IHC CJ stated.

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CJ Minallah criticised the rhetoric of the ousted government, reminding that it was the same court that provided relief to the PTI at 11 pm during the 2014 sit-in.

The chief justice also questioned the “irresponsible reporting”, saying that “some analysts created an atmosphere that a martial law was imminent”.

Responding to the CJ’s remarks, PTI’s counsel Faisal Chaudhry said that he would again ask the petitioner if they wanted to withdraw the petition from the IHC.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah continued to lambast the PTI stating that they did not have confidence in the courts and were telling the public that the courts had been compromised.

Advocate Chaudhry stated that he had confidence in the high court and urged the judge to hear the case.

The high court justice stated that the court respects the leaders of every democratic party. However, the PTI had accused him of owning an apartment in Manchester, adding that the Honorable Justice Mansoor Ali Shah was also not spared.

The IHC has currently directed Faisal Chaudhry to take instructions and inform the court whether PTI chairman Imran Khan had confidence in them, otherwise, the case will be sent to a different bench.

The IHC also extended the protective bail of PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry and Shahbaz Gill till May 12.

Furthermore, the court issued notices to the parties, including the interior ministry and the inspector general (IG) of Islamabad, to submit their replies by May 12.

While hearing a separate plea filed by the former interior minister and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid, who has challenged Abbasi’s appointment as a special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) on grounds of his 2018 conviction in an ephedrine case, Chief Justice Minallah sought Rashid’s affirmation that he had faith in his court.

“These courts are for everyone. Perhaps, people don’t believe this,” the IHC CJ remarked while addressing Rashid, adding that the opening of courts at midnight was being questioned at rallies.

“We have approached the court because we have faith in it,” said Rashid.

“Also ask the PTI chairperson about this,” Justice Minallah said, adding that the courts had been “issuing judgements for the weak”.

At that, Rashid reiterated that he had appeared before the court because he had faith in it.

“I will talk to Imran Khan,” he added.

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