Justice Safdar Saleem Shahid of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday proposed to the chief justice that a larger bench should decide a petition filed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan against arrest in cases registered on or after May 9, when he was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
The petition named the Punjab inspector general and the state through the Punjab advocate general as respondents.
The plea called on the court to direct the Punjab inspector general to provide a fresh report regarding the registration of “undisclosed/new FIRs” in Lahore on or after May 9.
It also prayed the court to give Imran “protection of law” and to bar the respondents from arresting the PTI chief in any new criminal case registered on or subsequent to May 9 without the court’s prior permission.
At the outset of the hearing today, Justice Shahid inquired about the PTI chief’s whereabouts.
His lawyer, Barrister Salman Safdar, informed the court that his client did not have protective bail. He said that if the court desired, his client could be presented after 11am.
However, the government lawyer opposed this and said that Imran’s plea was inadmissible. He also remarked that the PTI chief was seeking protective bail without appearing before the court.
Barrister Safdar responded by saying that his client was not seeking protective bail and asked for the case to be sent to a larger bench. The court subsequently reserved its verdict.
In his plea, Imran said more than 100 politically motivated and unlawful FIRs had been registered against him while hundreds of “fabricated” cases had been filed against PTI leaders and workers. It said “thousands” had been illegally detained and the whereabouts of many were unknown.
It further said that the “extraordinary nature of the attack on fundamental rights of one of the largest political parties” required the court’s intervention.
It noted that Imran’s pleas for pre-arrest bail had been fixed before the IHC on May 9 when NAB authorities “attacked” the biometric office and “illegally and unlawfully” arrested the PTI chief.
“[The] petitioner was forcefully abducted in the most condemnable circumstances which are already in the kind notice of this court,” the plea said. It said that Imran remained in NAB’s “illegal and unlawful custody” until he was produced before the court, and was also denied access to his doctors which had resulted in him experiencing “excruciating pains in his leg” after being dragged from his wheelchair at the time of his arrest.
It said Imran “apprehends arrest in relation to the FIRs which [are] not in his knowledge. Petitioner apprehends that without notice (abruptly) his freedom will be curtailed by the state.”
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) extended bails of Imran in two cases — one pertaining to allegations against top officers of state institutions and the other on the manhandling of PML-N leader Mohsin Ranjha by party workers — until June 8.
Barrister Gohar, Imran’s lawyer, appeared in court and filed a request for his client’s exemption from personal appearance, which was approved.
IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq also inquired about the registration of a first information report related to the arrest made from the court’s premises. The attorney general responded that a Supreme Court verdict is pending in the case.