IHC forms new bench for Imran’s jail trial pleas in NAB cases

A new bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) was formed on Saturday to hear PTI founding chairman Imran Khan’s plea concerning jail trials in NAB cases.

The new bench comprises Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri; set to convene on Monday, January 22.

The need to form a new bench arose as Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, part of the earlier benchis scheduled to be on leave next week.

During the previous hearing, on January 18, two-member bench consisting of Justice Aurangzeb and Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir had issued notices to all concerned parties.

Imran challenges in jail proceedings

The capital’s high court reserved its verdict on the admissibility of petitions against the jail trial of PTI founder Imran Khan in the Toshakhana and £190 million NAB references, at the January 18 hearing.

PTI counsel Sardar Latif Khosa representing the former premier, while reading out the jail trial notifications and giving reference to multiple court verdicts, stated that they have challenged the two notifications regarding the Toshakhana and Al-Qadir Trust (£190 million scam) case jail trials.

He added that one of their petitions was allotted a number, while the other was not.

On Justice Aurangzeb’s question about approaching the court weeks after the notification issued on November 2023, Khosa replied that the reference against Imran was filed on December 20; which led to the discovery that a daily trial was being conducted.

“A division bench gave a short judgment of annulling the cypher jail trial on November 21, with no order being issued in this regard by any judge,” the judge added.

Khosa, agreeing to Justice Aurangzeb’s remarks, stated that the trial then commenced after the court verdict.

The judge stated that they were moving the court to determine the validity of the jail trial process and not to assess the place of trial.

Read NAB submits asset details in in £190 million case

“There were no suggestions by the judge in this case, and no one ordered to conduct the jail trial based on security concerns,” said Khosa.

Justice Aurangzeb asked Khosa if the trial had commenced before the reference was filed against Imran. To which the PTI counsel stated that the trial was started before the reference was filed, questioning how the federal government was aware of filling a reference if the notification was issued after the start of the jail trial.

Imran’s open trial plea

A division bench of the IHC was scheduled on January 18 to hear a petition seeking the suspension of court proceedings against PTI founder Imran in the Toshakhana and £190 million cases, as well as the cessation of the former prime minister’s prison trial.

The IHC was initially scheduled to hear the case on January 16. However, due to an error on part of the IHC staff the petition was listed for hearing before a single-member bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.

The judge highlighted the error and sent the case file to the IHC chief justice for formation of a division bench.

Meanwhile, during January 16 hearing, talking to journalists outside the prison, Khosa highlighted the difficulties faced by lawyers, journalists and the accused family members in attending the court proceedings being held inside the Rawalpindi jail.

He said all people, including female lawyers who enter the jail to attend case proceedings, have to go through a “humiliating process” of body searching.

Khosa said there is no heating in the courtrooms inside the jail, which are extremely cold these days. Additionally, there is insufficient lighting, making it difficult for lawyers to read.

“Nothing can be more disgraceful than this. To declare this type of court proceeding as open trial is regrettable,” he said. “Those who claim that a jail trial is open should come here and witness a hearing,” he said. The lawyer accused the accountability court judge of being in a hurry to conclude the trials.

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