Toshakhana case: Police can’t sit idle when warrants are issued, says judge

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with AFP at his residence in Lahore on March 15, 2023. – AFP

ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad court said on Thursday that the police cannot sit idly by when the March 18 warrants were issued – as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) moved the trial court for relief for party chairman Imran Khan. Referred to.

The party on Tuesday requested the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to suspend Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrant in the Tosha Khana case, but the high court directed the ousted prime minister’s lawyer to ask the trial court to comply with its order. Provide surety. The arrest was “in accordance with law.”

Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal presided over today’s hearing where Khan’s counsel presented the court with two options – either suspend the warrant issued or issue a bailable warrant of arrest.

Meanwhile, the situation at Khan’s Zaman Park residence is apparently calm after the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered a halt to the police operation till 10:30 am today.

Clashes between PTI activists and police lasted for nearly 24 hours as Zaman Park became a virtual battleground, with law enforcement agencies trying to wade through supporters and arrest Khan, who was prime minister last April. was removed from office.

Law enforcement agencies fired teargas shells and party supporters resorted to throwing Molotov cocktails, injuring several people, including policemen and PTI workers.

The legal proceedings against Khan began after he was ousted in a parliamentary vote early last year. Since then, he has held nationwide protest rallies calling for early elections, during one of which he was shot and wounded.

Today’s hearing

At the start of the hearing, PTI chief’s lawyer Khawaja Haris read out the Islamabad High Court’s order on the party’s plea against the arrest warrant.

In response, the judge said the trial court had not received the IHC’s order through the official process, but noted that the issue could be resolved in a second and asked where Khan was.

Has Imran Khan presented himself in court? asked the judge. On this, Haris asked the judge whether it is necessary for the former prime minister to appear in court in person.

“We want Imran Khan to appear in court, why is he not presenting himself before us? What is the reason?” He said that according to the law, Khan should help the police and not resist.

“Imran Khan made a scene by resisting [arrest]The judge said, adding that the IHC order also mentioned that the lower court’s order should not be affected by “illegal measures”.

The judge also remarked that if the warrants were bailable, “there would be no problem” but the warrants issued against Khan were non-bailable. The judge told the lawyer that the arguments you have presented are related to a bailable warrant of arrest.

Harris then asked the judge if he wanted to stay strict and keep Khan’s arrest warrant active. The judge added that the warrant was issued to ensure Khan’s personal presence.

The lawyer then added that Khan himself has said that he wants to appear in court and is not seeking any immunity.

You have two options, Harris said, adding that the first option is to suspend the non-bailable warrant by accepting the undertaking request, and the second option is to accept the bail and issue a bailable arrest warrant. Is.

The PTI lawyers requested to suspend the arrest warrant and said that Khan wants to give an oath to the court that he will appear in the session court on March 18.

The judge then said that a notice should also be issued to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). On this, the lawyer said that the court should issue a notice and summon the Election Commission today.

Judge Iqbal also asked Khan’s lawyer why the condition of Lahore’s Zaman Park is so bad. “This warrant has become the most expensive not only in Pakistan but in the world. The government has spent crores of rupees to pursue this warrant.”

Khan’s lawyer lamented that what was happening in Zaman Park should not have happened, to which the judge said that Khan should have been brought straight to court.

“It is not possible for Imran Khan to be harassed while appearing in court, we are a poor country and it is not possible to spend crores of rupees on warrants.”

The judge added that if the PTI chief surrendered to the authorities, he would ask the police to stand down and asked the lawyer how Khan’s warrant could be amended.

Haris then pleaded that Khan was giving an undertaking and the court should suspend his warrant. Warrants issued according to law, then why? [authorities] Facing resistance? This is the nation’s money. The most you could do was hold a peaceful protest.”

The judge said that suspects in criminal cases appear in court and once they do, non-bailable arrest warrants are suspended. The police cannot sit idly by when the March 18 arrest warrant is issued.

The judge then added that he was issuing a notice to the ECP and adjourned the hearing till 12 noon.

More to follow…

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