–Alvi says he had not sought immunity, judge was bound by Article 248(2) to stop proceedings against him till end of term
ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday denied seeking immunity from the court in cases pertaining to violent protests during the 2014 sit-ins, a day after an anti-terrorism court (ATC) granted him immunity from prosecution and adjourned cases against him till his term in office.
ATC Judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi granted immunity to President Alvi under Article 248 (2) of the Constitution and adjourned the cases “sine die” – with no appointed date for resumption. In the order, Judge Zaidi stated that Alvi is entitled to immunity because he was elected and has taken oath as the President of Pakistan.
The judge stated that the law of the land gives protection to Alvi from criminal proceedings, therefore proceedings against him will be taken up after the expiry of his term in office.
Under Clause (2) of the Article 248 (Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc), “no criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office.”
Responding to criticism, President Alvi tweeted that he “did not want or ask for immunity” from the court.
Taking to the microblogging website, Alvi said: “I did not want or ask for immunity. However, the honourable judge is bound by Article 248(2) which does not give him any choice as it states ‘No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the president or a governor in any court during his term of office’.”
After assuming the office of president, Dr Alvi had said that he would not seek immunity. However, his counsel Mohammad Ali Bukhari had pointed out that the office of the president enjoyed constitutional immunity from criminal proceedings under Article 248, and he therefore had no say in the matter.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is also accused in the case, has been granted permanent exemption by the ATC after his counsel, Dr Babar Awan, assured the court that he would represent PM Khan in every hearing of the case.
On Aug 31, 2014, PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers had marched towards Parliament House and Prime Minister House and clashed with police deployed on Constitution Avenue.
Around 50 protesters, allegedly from the PTI and PAT, were accused of attacking and injuring SSP Asmatullah Junejo the next day.
Police had subsequently invoked the ATA against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Khan, Alvi, Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood and Raja Khurram Nawaz for inciting violence during the 2014 sit-in.
As per the prosecution, three people were killed and 26 injured, while 60 were arrested. The prosecution had submitted 65 photos, sticks, cutters, etc, to the court to establish its case.
The prosecution had argued that the protest was not peaceful and the PTI leaders sought bail after three years.
In addition to unidentified attackers, police had also nominated Imran Khan and PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri as accused in the case. The ATC declared them proclaimed offenders in November 2014 as they did not appear before the court despite issuance of summons and arrest warrants.