A Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for protective bail in a terrorism case registered by Sangjani police (Islamabad) against him on charges of vandalism and violation of section 144 during the protests, following his disqualification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the Toshakhana case, over non-prosecution.
The division bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi heard the petition of Imran Khan. As the bench resumed proceedings for the second time, Justice Ali Baqar Najafi observed that the bench had given an opportunity to Imran Khan to ensure his appearance before it at 6.30 pm. However, neither Imran Khan nor his counsel appeared before the court at the given time, he said and added that the bench did not have any other option except to dismiss the petition for protective bail.
At this stage, several lawyers, who were present in the court, requested the bench to wait for some time. However, the bench declined the request and dismissed the petition of the PTI chairman over non-appearance. Earlier, the bench took up the matter at 5.00pm and after hearing initial arguments of Imran Khan’s counsel. The bench had granted an opportunity to the PTI chairman to appear before it at 6.30 pm. The bench observed that it did not encourage the grant of protective bail without appearance, adding that Imran Khan could come in a wheelchair.
Imran’s counsel had pleaded with the court for granting protective bail relief to his client without appearance. He submitted that the doctors had advised complete bed rest to Imran Khan whereas the party was also not ready to bring him to the court. He pleaded with the court to grant protective bail without appearance.
The PTI chairman had approached the LHC for protective bail after an Islamabad anti-terrorism court dismissed his pre-arrest bail petition, a day earlier, in a case registered by Sangjani police against him on charges of vandalism and violation of section 144 during the protests, following his disqualification by the ECP in the Toshakhana case, on the grounds of non-appearance.
The Sangjani police station booked the PTI chairman and other leaders in a terrorism case over alleged vandalism and violation of section 144 during the protests. The first information report (FIR) was registered at Sangjani police station under Sections 109 (abetment), 148 (rioting armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public service), 188 (disobedience), 353 (assault on public servant), 427 (causing damage) of the Pakistan Penal Code, and Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Meanwhile, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh has summoned PTI chairman Imran Khan on February 20 for clarification of his different signatures on affidavit and power of attorney while hearing his petition for protective bail in a case registered at Secretariat police station (Islamabad). The court also ordered inspector general of police Punjab to finalise security matters in connection with appearance by sitting with Imran Khan’s legal team.
The court heard the petition at different intervals during the day and granted opportunity to the PTI chairman for appearance, after his lawyers sought time for consultation. As the court resumed proceedings at 2.00pm, Imran’s counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique sought permission to withdraw the petition, adding that Islamabad High Court had given relief in the matter. However, the court observed that there was a difference in signatures of Imran Khan on affidavit and power of attorney. The court observed that it was an important matter and the court would issue contempt of court notice to the petitioner or his counsel. The court refused to allow the withdrawal of the petition and sought explanation, besides adjourning the hearing till 4.00pm after the counsel sought time for assistance. Later, as the court resumed proceedings at 4.00pm, Advocate Ghulam Abbas, another counsel for PTI chairman, submitted that Imran Khan admitted his signatures and took responsibility.
At this, the court insisted that Imran Khan should appear in-person and verify the signatures. The court rejected explanations of the counsel and adjourned further hearing till 6.30pm after the counsel sought time for consultation. As the court resumed proceedings at 6.30pm, Advocate Khawaja Tariq Rahim appeared before the court and submitted that Imran Khan could appear in person and requested the court to order necessary arrangements in this regard. Subsequently, the court adjourned further proceedings till February 20 and ordered Imran Khan to appear in person.