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LHC Dismisses Imran Khan’s Protective Bail Plea

Judges refuse to grant any more chances for PTI chief to appear in person and secure bail for case filed in Islamabad

by Staff Report

File photo

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday dismissed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s plea for protective bail in a criminal case filed by the Islamabad Police after he failed to appear in court despite multiple summons.

“The case was taken up at 5 p.m. when the learned counsel for the petitioner sought an adjournment to present the petitioner,” read the short-order issued by a two-member bench comprising Justices Ali Baqar Najafi and Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi. “We adjourned the case at 6:30 p.m., but at the time when the case was called neither Azhar Siddique, the learned counsel for the petitioner, nor the petitioner was in attendance. In this view of the matter, we have no option but to dismiss the petition for non-prosecution,” it added.

When the hearing commenced, Justice Najafi asked the PTI chief’s lawyer why his client had failed to appear in court for the protective bail. Counsel Siddique claimed his client could not appear due to medical concerns and provided reports to validate his arguments. However, the bench observed, the medical reports did not contain any advice that Khan was barred from walking and, regardless, could be brought to court in a wheelchair. At this, the lawyer backtracked and cited security concerns as the reason for Khan’s absence.

Siddique also argued that similar bail had been granted to former Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz and his brother, Suleman Shehbaz. However, Justice Najafi observed that precedent set by the Supreme Court did not permit protective bail to any accused without a personal appearance. The bench then directed the lawyer to either withdraw the petition or get it dismissed, with Siddique seeking more time for consultation with the petitioner, which was granted.

When the proceedings resumed after a short break, Advocate Hassaan Niazi—a nephew of Khan—appeared before the bench and reiterated that the PTI chairman faced threats to his life by the Taliban. He also sought more time to provide a clearer response. However, when the proceedings resumed after another recess, no one appeared on behalf of the petitioner and the court issued its verdict.

The protective bail sought by Khan was in a case registered by Islamabad Police over alleged vandalism during the protests in the federal capital against his disqualification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Another bail petition

In a separate bail petition, being heard by Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, the PTI’s lawyers repeatedly sought additional time to consult with doctors and Khan to determine if he could appear in court. Filed a day earlier, the proceedings commenced in the morning but were briefly recessed until 12:30 p.m. on the lawyers’ request.

Appearing in court, Khan’s personal physician Dr. Faisal Sultan sought to justify his patient’s absence but the judge refused to hear the doctor and once again asked the lawyer to ensure the petitioner appeared in court. At this, advocate Siddique sought to withdraw the petition, claiming the Islamabad High Court had granted him relief in the matter. However, the judge took notice of a dissimilarity in the signatures of Imran Khan on his affidavit and the power of attorney attached to the petition, stressing that this was a serious matter and could trigger contempt notices against both the petitioner and his counsel. Advocate Ghulam Abbas Nassoana, also representing Khan, claimed his client owned both signatures, but the judge maintained this could only be determined by Khan’s personal appearance.

Khan then retained yet another lawyer, Khawaja Tariq Rahim, who sought additional time for the court for his client’s appearance. He also claimed security conditions were not appropriate for his client, with the judge directing the Inspector General of Police to work with Khan’s legal team to alleviate their concerns. The hearing was then adjourned until Feb. 20, with Rahim assuring the judge that he would have his client appear in person at 2 p.m. on Monday.

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