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Pakistan News

    Title: Toshakhana case: Judge to stop Imran's arrest if he 'surrenders' in court
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    Toshakhana Case Judge To Stop Imrans Arrest If He Surrenders In Court 30707
    Description: Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal on Thursday said he would halt attempts by the Islamabad police to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan in the Toshakhana (gift depository) case if the PTI chairman surrendered before the court. The remarks came during the hearing of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) reference that sought criminal proceedings against the former premier for hiding details of Toshakhana gifts. The judge had re-issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran earlier this week and directed the capital city police to bring him to court by March 18. However, skirmishes broke out between the Islamabad police and PTI supporters when the police reached Imran’s residence in Zaman Park. The two sides battled for two days, with other law enforcement agencies joining the Islamabad police. Calm only returned after judicial intervention. Earlier today, an Islamabad district and sessions court resumed hearing the case. Imran’s lawyers Khawaja Haris Ahmed and Faisal Chaudhry were present in court. At the outset of the hearing, the judge questioned why the ex-prime minister was “resisting” to which Haris asked if it was necessary to “arrest Imran and then bring him before the court”. Read Toshakhana: Imran eyeing relief from SC The judge maintained that he wanted Imran to appear before the court, and added that the PTI chief has to assist the police according to the law, not resist them. He remarked that if the warrants were bailable, there would have been no problems. However, Haris informed the court that the warrants were non-bailable and read the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order before the court which had instructed Imran to sign an undertaking and appear before the court on March 18. The lawyer continued that if the judge was “satisfied”, he could accept the undertaking and the PTI chief would appear before the court on March 18. Haris again asked the judge to suspend the warrant as the situation in Lahore was “bad”, to which Iqbal asked why Imran refused to cooperate when the situation was worsening. The lawyer argued that damage worth millions had occurred and blamed the incumbent government. He then questioned if the court would continue to be strict regarding the non-bailable arrest warrant, arguing a surety had been submitted in court and the PTI chief was ready to give an undertaking. The judge maintained that the warrant was in place for Imran to appear before the court in person. Haris stated that Imran “wanted” to come to the court and was not asking for an exception, however, he questioned if non-bailable warrants were mandatory for an arrest. He continued that the court could either accept the undertaking and cancel the warrants, or take a surety bond and issue bailable arrest warrants. The PTI's counsel added that Imran wanted to give an undertaking and would appear before the court on March 18. The judge commented that the warrant turned out to be the “most expensive” arrest warrant in the world, with millions of rupees spent in attempts to execute it. He maintained that the events at Zaman Park should not have transpired. Imran’s counsel continued to request that the court cancel the non-bailable arrest warrant and that the ECP lawyer be issued notices and summoned for arguments. Read more Uneasy calm prevails at Zaman Park The judge stated that he would prevent the Islamabad police from arresting the PTI chairman if he surrendered in court, adding that legally the former premier should have been brought to the court directly and it would not have been possible to harass him during his court appearance. Judge Iqbal also remarked that Pakistan was a poor country that should not spend millions on an arrest warrant. He added that action should not have been taken till the date on the arrest warrant, rather the person should have been arrested and presented in court. He added that the police could not sit and not do anything. He questioned why Imran resisted legally issued warrants, stating that the PTI chief could have held a peaceful protest. “In criminal proceedings, arrest warrants are typically issued and then cancelled after the accused is presented in court,” he said. The judge issued notices to the secretariat police and ECP, calling them to the court. The hearing was then adjourned till 12 pm. After the hearing resumed, Khawaja Harris and Barrister Gohar came to the rostrum and an officer of the Islamabad police law appeared before the court. The public prosecutor informed the court that the SHO who was supposed to execute the warrant was still in Lahore. The government’s lawyer added that the ECP counsel was at Peshawar High Court (PHC) and would reach by 2:30 pm, thus requesting that the hearing be adjourned till then. Harris stated that he was reassuring the court regarding Imran appearing in court, and once again requested the court to review the arrest warrant. He gave an undertaking on behalf of the PTI chief and affirmed that Imran would indeed appear on March 18. He added that the IHC had said the sessions court could accept the undertaking and a surety bond. Harris maintained that his team was okay with the judge’s orders but not with the dismissal of their petition. He reiterated that he wanted the judge to temporarily suspend – not withdraw – the warrant and that there was “no question” that Imran would not appear before the court in two days. The court adjourned the hearing till 2:30 pm after the ECP lawyer requested it.
    Published Date: 16-Mar-2023
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