Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal on Thursday said he would halt attempts by the Islamabad police to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan in the Toshakhana (gift depository) case if the PTI chairman surrendered before the court.
The remarks came during the hearing of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) reference that sought criminal proceedings against the former premier for hiding details of Toshakhana gifts.
The judge had re-issued non-bailable arrest warrants (toshakhana case) for Imran Khan earlier this week and directed the capital city police to bring him to court by March 18.
However, skirmishes broke out between the Islamabad police and PTI supporters when the police reached Imran’s residence in Zaman Park. The two sides battled for two days, with other law enforcement agencies joining the Islamabad police. Calm only returned after judicial intervention.
Earlier today, an Islamabad district and sessions court resumed hearing the case. Imran khan’s lawyers Khawaja Haris Ahmed and Faisal Chaudhry were present in court.
At the outset of the hearing, the judge questioned why the ex-prime minister was “resisting” to which Haris asked if it was necessary to “arrest Imran and then bring him before the court”.
The judge maintained that he wanted Imran to appear before the court, and added that the PTI chief has to assist the police according to the law, not resist them. He remarked that if the warrants were bailable, there would have been no problems.
However, Haris informed the court that the warrants were non-bailable and read the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order before the court which had instructed Imran to sign an undertaking and appear before the court on March 18.
PTI Lawyer Said:
“The lawyer stated that if the judge is satisfied, he can accept the undertaking and the PTI chief will appear before the court on March 18.”
Haris again asked the judge to suspend the warrant as the situation in Lahore was “bad”, to which Iqbal asked why Imran refused to cooperate when the situation was worsening.
The lawyer argued that damage worth millions had occurred and blamed the incumbent government.
The lawyer then questioned if the court would continue to enforce the non-bailable arrest warrant strictly, arguing that they had submitted a surety in court and that the PTI chief was ready to give an undertaking.
The judge maintained that the warrant was in place for Imran to appear before the court in person.
Harris stated that Imran “wanted” to come to the court and was not asking for an exception, however, he questioned if non-bailable warrants were mandatory for an arrest.
He continued that the court could either accept the undertaking and cancel the warrants, or take a surety bond and issue bailable arrest warrants. The PTI’s counsel added that Imran wanted to give an undertaking and would appear before the court on March 18.
The judge commented that the warrant turned out to be the “most expensive” arrest warrant in the world, with millions of rupees spent in attempts to execute it. He maintained that the events at Zaman Park should not have transpired.
Imran’s counsel continued to request that the court cancel the non-bailable arrest warrant and that the ECP lawyer be issued notices and summoned for arguments.
The judge said that he would stop the Islamabad police from arresting the PTI chairman if he surrendered in court.
He further added that bringing the former premier directly to the court would have been legally appropriate and would have prevented any possible harassment during his court appearance.
Judge Iqbal also remarked that Pakistan was a poor country that should not spend millions on an arrest warrant.
He added that the authorities should have arrested the person and presented them in court instead of taking action until the date mentioned in the arrest warrant.
The police could not sit and not do anything, he added . He questioned why Imran resisted legally issued warrants, stating that the PTI chief could have held a peaceful protest.
He said that in criminal proceedings, the court typically issues arrest warrants and then cancels them once the accused appears in court.
Published on Logical Baat, March 16, 2023.