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IHC Directs Imran Khan to Submit Undertaking in Trial Court

Court disposes of petition seeking cancellation of arrest warrant for PTI chief in Toshakhana reference

by Staff Report

File photo. Farooq Naeem—AFP

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday disposed of a petition seeking the cancellation of a non-bailable arrest warrant issued for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference after continuous non-appearance in court proceedings.

Announcing the verdict after reserving it earlier in the day, Chief Justice Aamer Farooq also directed the PTI chief to submit an undertaking before the trial court in which he has claimed he would appear before it on March 18. The trial court, the IHC said, should decide on Khan’s undertaking in accordance with the law.

Filed by the PTI after nearly 24 hours of clashes between police and PTI workers outside Khan’s Zaman Park residence, the petition was initially rejected by the registrar over not including biometric verification of Khan as well as other issues. It was re-submitted by Khan’s counsel, Khawaja Haris Ahmed, who then urged the judge to take up the matter with urgency. In response, the judge stated that the petition would only be taken up for hearing once it had been scheduled, adding that an earlier plea seeking the suspension of the warrant had not yielded positive results.

“Directions were also issued, but unfortunately, what happened?” he asked. To this, Haris reiterated his request, adding that he would legally convince the bench about the need to hear the matter. “Earlier, this court had granted relief. But what happened to our order?” the IHC chief justice responded, noting that the court would examine the possible repercussions of not implementing its orders before issuing any verdict.

Haris, meanwhile, argued that the “entire situation [in Lahore] was visible to you.” Justice Farooq then replied: “It’s all because of you [PTI]. The court had provided a respectable path which was not followed.” The hearing was then briefly adjourned and then resumed for hearing later in the day.

Arguing the case, PTI counsel Haris said Khan had challenged the court orders of March 13. He said his client had been directed to appear before the court then but had been unable to attend proceedings. “Therefore, we filed an exemption plea,” he said, adding that an arrest warrant could not be issued as there was a difference between criminal cases and bail requests. “We also urged the trial court not to issue warrants until the maintainability of the petition was decided,” he said, adding that the complainant—the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)—was not authorized to file the initial plea against Khan.

However, the IHC chief justice said that appearing in court was mandatory regardless of the case for which the summons was issued. To this, Haris submitted an affidavit signed by Khan claiming he would appear in court on March 18 and urged the judge to suspend the arrest warrant. He also expressed regret over the situation in Lahore and hoped for a swift resolution.

However, Justice Farooq emphasized that respect for the judiciary was of paramount importance to him. He said respect for the judiciary was essential, regardless of whether it was a civil or trial court. He then asked Additional Advocate General Munawar Iqbal where the government would keep the PTI chief if he was arrested four days before the scheduled date for his court appearance.

The government’s lawyer replied that similar affidavits had been issued previously, but the person who had submitted them—Khan—had still not appeared before court. He also questioned the reason given for Khan’s absence.

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