Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered former Prime Minister Imran Khan to be before the court within one hour, Dawn reported.
‘A verdict will be issued today,’ Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial said. Khan was arrested on Tuesday triggering violent protests across the country.
CJP Bandial has ordered the country’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to produce the chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chief before the Supreme Court of Pakistan today.
A three-member bench, comprising CJP Bandial, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah, heard the Khan’s plea against his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case, Dawn reported.
At the outset of the hearing, one of Imran’s counsels, Hamid Khan, appeared on the rostrum and informed the apex court that his client had approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for pre-arrest bail.
His lawyer said that Imran Khan was in the process of getting his biometrics done when he was arrested. ‘Rangers misbehaved with Imran Khan and arrested him,’ the lawyer said as cited by Dawn.
CJP Bandial observed that court records showed the case had not been fixed for hearing. The lawyer told the court that the appeal could not be filed without completing the biometric process.
CJP Bandial said that there was a certain ‘respect’ for the courts. Recalling a past incident, he said, ‘NAB had arrested a suspect from the Supreme Court’s parking [lot]. The court had then reversed the arrest.’
The CJP asked Imran Khan’s counsel about the number of Rangers personnel who had arrested the former premier. Imran’s lawyer responded that ‘100 rangers personnel entered court premises’ in order to arrest the PTI chief.
‘What dignity remains of the court if 90 people entered its premises? How can any individual be arrested from court premises?’ he asked.
‘In the past, action has been taken against lawyers for vandalism inside the court,’ he observed. ‘If an individual has surrendered to the court, then what does arresting them mean?’
He further said that NAB had committed ‘contempt of court’. ‘They should have taken permission from the court’s registrar before the arrest. Court staffers were also subjected to abuse,’ he added.
CJP Bandial emphasised that courts should be accessible to everyone for relief and that individuals should feel safe to approach the courts.
Imran’s lawyer then demanded that his client be released from NAB custody, stating that the arrest was made without an investigation officer present.
The chief justice noted that the court was currently examining the manner in which the arrest was conducted and whether contempt had taken place.
Imran’s lawyer said the PTI chief was on terrorists’ ‘radar’. Only after the arrest was made did it emerge that the warrant was issued on May 1, he said.
Imran’s other lawyer, Advocate Salman Akram Raja, told the court that the interior ministry’s secretary had said he had not yet received the warrants for their execution.
At this point, the CJP said that whatever had happened after Imran’s arrest should have stopped.
‘This does not mean that we shut our eyes to an illegal action. Such a verdict should be given that applies to all. Access to justice is the right of every accused,’ he said.
Imran’s lawyer Hamid said that the party would not have approached the SC if the PTI chief had been arrested from outside his home or outside the court.
Here, Justice Mazhar asked if Imran had responded to the NAB notice, to which the lawyer replied in the affirmative.
‘According to the law, an arrest cannot be made when an inquiry is still being carried out,’ Hamid said.