The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday suspended an arrest warrant for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case, with Chief Justice Aamer Farooq saying the former premier should be given “another chance” to appear before the trial court.
On Friday morning, the PTI approached the IHC to appeal against a district and sessions court’s decision to maintain the warrant for Khan’s arrest. In its ruling, the trial court had noted that Khan had repeatedly skipped proceedings, delaying the case, as he must appear in person for framing of indictment charges. Noting that the accused’s past behavior did not permit any further relief, it had said his undertaking to appear before the court on March 18 could not be accepted and he must be produced in the next hearing by police.
In its plea, the PTI said Khan would attend proceedings on March 18, adding: “It is trite law that the purpose of issuance of a non-bailable warrant of arrest is to ensure attendance of the accused and the undertaking has fulfilled the purpose of the warrant. Arrest and detention of the applicant will serve no useful purpose and he will be humiliated just for nothing.”
Seemingly rubbishing the trial court’s ruling, the IHC chief justice took up the PTI’s plea challenging the order despite the registrar raising objections to the petition, noting Khan had not provided biometric verification. “How can the high court hear the same matter on which it has already made its decision?” the registrar’s office added.
Commencing proceedings, Justice Farooq inquired about the objections raised on the petition and was informed by Khan’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, that the biometric verification issue had been addressed. He also rebutted objections over re-visiting a previously decided case, saying the court had referred the matter to the trial court. “We had asked the court to look into the undertaking issue,” the chief justice said, adding that “everyone” is equal under law.
“You want to appear before the court and giving assurance in this regard?” he asked, with Khan’s counsel requesting that the bench suspend the arrest warrant as the PTI chief wished to appear before the court. Warning the lawyer that there would be “consequences” if Khan failed to appear before the trial court once again, the chief justice said contempt proceedings would be initiated in case of any further attempt to avoid the court.
At this, Justice Farooq granted relief to Khan and directed the police to not arrest him. He also ordered the district administration and Islamabad police to ensure security for the PTI chief’s appearance in court.