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Imran moves IHC against indictment in cypher case


Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan challenged his indictment in the cypher case on Wednesday in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Represented by his lawyers Salman Safdar and Khalid Yusuf, the PTI chief sought to annul the process of indictment citing concerns about the haste with which it was carried out.

The petition named plaintiff Yusuf Naseem Khokhar and the state as parties. It contended that, as per the law, charges can only be framed seven days after the distribution of the case copy – a requirement seemingly overlooked by the trial court.

Imran also pointed out the absence of a directive from the IHC to expedite the trial or to conduct daily proceedings, and argued that rushing the trial could infringe upon his fundamental constitutional rights.

The ex-prime minister further highlighted that the lack of central evidence, particularly related to the cypher telegraphs had been overlooked.

Read Imran’s indictment ‘death knell to legal system’: PTI

The PTI chief prayed that the IHC set aside and annul the order rejecting Imran's plea seeking deferment in the process.

Two days ago, Imran and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi pleaded 'not guilty' as the two PTI leaders were indicted in the cypher case.

During the hearing, prosecutor Shah Khawar termed Imran's plea seeking deferment in the indictment process a "delaying tactic" and requested the court to reject it, stating that today's hearing was fixed only for indictment.

Presiding over the hearing, Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain of the special court summoned government officials listed as witnesses in the case for October 27.

"This is a false, fabricated case, designed to exact political revenge. Will prove my innocence," the PTI chief had reportedly said as he denied the charges.

‘Imran feels safe inside jail’

Separately, earlier in the day, Special Court judge Abul Hasnaat Zulqarnain - presiding over the cypher case - told Imran's spokesperson for legal affairs Naeem Panjotha that the PTI chief had himself "told me that he considers himself safe in jail".

Judge Zulqarnain further remarked that the proceedings were being smoothly conducted at the prison with a primary focus on ensuring the PTI chief’s safety.

The judge's remarks came as Panjotha appeared before his court seeking implementation of his orders from Adial jail officials where the former prime minister is currently incarcerated.

Panjotha raised concerns about certain court orders not being implemented, particularly regarding lawyers being granted access to the PTI chairman in jail.

Judge Zulqarnain stated that there were administrative matters to consider. He noted that certain matters will need to be carefully managed if multiple lawyers have to meet Imran.

To this, Panjotha argued that the superintendent of Adiala jail will only follow your orders. Raising further concerns regarding the case, the spokesperson stated that the case was being conducted so secretively that even journalists were not being allowed to cover the proceedings. “If journalists are not allowed to attend the hearing at least lawyers should be allowed to attend them,” he said.

However, the judge observed that the cypher case was filed under the 1923 Secret Act, and that if it was upto him he would not have an objection to journalists covering the case.

Regarding the complaint about physical space constraints in the Adiala jail courtroom, the judge remarked at Imran's legal aide that he already had a wall of the ex-premier's jail cell demolished, asking him if he would rather have the PTI chief's entire room demolished?

Panjotha pointed out that the caretaker government was making excuses to avoid presenting Imran at the judicial complex

Read more LHC puts Imran's bail pleas off day's cause list

He said that the former premier had not been provided security despite the SSP expressing concerns regarding his life being under threat, comparing that to the security provided to the recently-returned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif.

In response, the judge highlighted the significance of protecting a former prime minister’s life. Judge Zulqarnain further maintained that he had personally held a one-hour long meeting with Imran where the latter explicitly told him that he feels safe in prison.

The judge stated that the case proceedings were ongoing in a satisfactory manner, inquiring of Panjotha if there were any concerns related to other directions or instructions regarding the PTI chairman.

The legal aide informed the judge that their cases were currently pending in the IHC. To this, the judge clarified that he was referring to meeting-related requests.

Judge Zulqarnain later issued instructions to the jail superintendent to ensure lawyers' easy access to Imran in future.