The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday granted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan protective bail until March 3 in a case related to protests in Islamabad. In a separate case, related to protests outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the court disposed of a similar petition when Khan withdrew it after admitting it contained a fake signature.
Khan showed up in court after violating several deadlines set by the court. He was further delayed upon his arrival to the LHC because of a large crowd of PTI supporters who had gathered at the venue, making it difficult for him to disembark from his car without the risk of being jostled. During proceedings, Khan and his lawyer both maintained that any “sudden jolt” to his leg could set back his recovery from a shooting at Wazirabad on Nov. 3 for months.
The first case, in which Khan was seeking protective bail for a case registered at Islamabad’s Sangjani Police Station, also contains offenses under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. In his petition, the PTI chief had sought 15-day protective bail so he could recover from his injuries and approach the relevant court for pre-arrest bail.
At the commencement of proceedings, when Khan was still sitting in his car, his lawyer argued that he could not be presented in the courtroom due to a security risk. He also sought to allege that Khan’s supporters had gathered of their own accord without any call to do so by the party—this is inaccurate, as the party was urging its supporters to gather at the LHC in various posts on social media.
Rubbishing the excuse, the judge said Khan would have to appear in the courtroom and ordered security to ensure his physical presence by 7:30 p.m. The PTI chief made it to the courtroom when the hearing resumed and took the rostrum, arguing that while his leg had largely recovered, he had been advised two more weeks of bed rest by doctors. The court then approved protective bail for Khan till March 3 and directed him to approach the relevant court by then.
Shortly after securing bail in the first case, Khan appeared before a separate, single-member bench in a case related to protests outside the ECP. The case was considered more serious because Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh had warned in an earlier hearing of issuing a contempt notice because Khan’s signatures on the affidavit attached with the petition did not match the signatures on his power of attorney.
Khan told the judge that the petition was filed without his consent and he had not signed it. “As soon as I found out, I told [lawyer] Azhar Siddique to withdraw the petition,” he said, with the judge then disposing of the petition.
Khan, accompanied by a convoy of supporters and party workers, reached the LHC around 5 p.m. but he was unable to enter the courtroom until 7:30 p.m. because the crowds had raised the security risk, per his lawyers. At the counsels’ request, the courts granted Khan additional time to appear in court but stressed that if the delaying tactics continued, the judges would leave.