ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday reserved judgement on a plea by former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan against hearing of the cypher case within the premises of Attock jail.
Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, presiding over the hearing, heard the arguments presented by the PTI chief lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat. The advocate read out the law ministry’s notification before the court.
Imran’s legal counsel inquired under which law and authority was the Ministry of Law able to transfer the hearing of the case to Attock Jail. “How can the trial be transferred from Islamabad to Punjab? Transferring a trial to another province can legally be done only by the Supreme Court, not by the chief commissioner or home secretary,” argued Marwat.
The lawyer further added that if the trial venue was to be changed, a petition should have been filed with the trial judge. Marwat further asserted that Imran is being kept ‘illegally’ in Attock Jail. “There is no reason to keep the PTI chairman in Attock Jail. He has been granted bail in the Toshakhana case and yet he’s still in judicial custody,” stated Marwat.
The counsel further alleged that there was malice behind the change of venue for the cypher case hearing. “The purpose of this change of venue notification is to keep the PTI chairman in jail. We have not even been notified why the notification was issued,” he added.
The lawyer also stated that any trial of a civilian registered under the Official Secret Acts takes place in a special court, as per the law. “The law should be exercised with regards to the PTI chairman’s case as well”
After Imran’s counsel concluded his arguments against the jail hearing, Additional Attorney General Mansoor Iqbal Dogal stated that the notification related to the jail trial was for one time only and that the exception made Imran’s petition ineffective.
“The Ministry of Law only issued the NOC. The change of venue in the cypher case was only for one time”. The court had sought an explanation of the notification by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
After hearing both parties, the IHC reserved its decision in the petition.