COURT HALTS TRIAL IN CIPHER CASE: RELIEF FOR IMRAN KHAN

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Thursday ACCEPTED THE PLEA OF the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan’s petition seeking a stay on the in-camera trial of the cipher case and halted the cipher case till January 11. Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb granted the stay order.

The former PTI chief, who remains behind bars, had last week moved the IHC against his indictment in the cipher case as well as its proceedings by the special court, established under the Official Secrets Act.

However, Khan’s plea requesting a stay on the trial, filed by his lawyer Usman Gul, was rejected by IHC’s Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. The court said it would first issue notices before issuing an order pertaining to the matter.

In this regard, the IHC issued notice to the federation and asked Khan’s lawyer Usman Gul to submit all necessary documents related to the cipher trial at the next hearing.

Highlighting the alleged irregularities in the cipher case, the PTI counsel contended in the court that a first information report (FIR) was lodged before the filing of a complaint.

The judge asked the PTI founder’s lawyer what the point of the petition was. “The point is that the legal procedure was not completed before the indictment,” said the lawyer, responding to the judge.

He said that a legally authorised official can file a complaint directly in court.

“You are saying that an authorised officer can file a complaint directly,” asked the judge.

The PTI founder’s lawyer requested that the IHC direct the trial court to conduct the hearing of the case after five or six days. “The trial court can complete the trial in the meantime,” he added.

“How many witness statements have been completed so far?” the judge questioned.

The lawyer responded by saying that statements of 25 witnesses have been recorded, while cross-examination of three has been completed out of the total 27 witnesses.

The cipher trial being conducted on a daily basis, the PTI counsel told the court.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi received the notice in the courtroom.

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan also appeared in the court and informed that the statements of 25 witnesses have been recorded in the cipher trial.

PTI lawyer Salman Akram Raja, who joined the hearing via videolink, said statements of many witnesses were recorded after the judgment of this court.

Judge Aurangzeb said: “I can’t ignore the court’s previous proceedings regarding the cipher case. I am concerned about the way the cipher trial is being conducted.”

The court acknowledged that the trial court judge conducted the hearing early because he was ordered to do so.

Expressing concerns over in-camera trial, the IHC judge observed that a special court judge should have ordered conducting an open trial on every hearing of the case.