ISLAMABAD: Legal wizards have termed the verdict against PTI chief Imran Khan as unjust judgement made in an indecent haste and in blatant violation of code of criminal procedure as well as the law.
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said that the verdict would be suspend in first hearing of the case in Supreme Court and Imran Khan would get a bail most likely on Monday as the judge had no jurisdiction over the matter. He said under 193 CrPC the judge does not have jurisdiction until the matter is throughly probed.
Salman Akram Raja Advocate said that Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice was responsible for the judgement against Imran Khan.
Sajjad Hafeez Advocate termed the judgment was a violation of the Constitution as well as the code of criminal procedure Pakistan 1860.
“It seems that the judge did not provide the accused enough time to defend himself according to the Constitution which gives the right to the accused for fair trial. Furthermore, according to the law, accused is the favourite child of law. Since the judge made the decision in an indecent haste, this judgment is a blatant violation of the criminal procedure court as well as constitution of Pakistan,” he added.
He said that there was negligence and ignorance on behalf of legal team and Imran Khan as they also did not follow the court orders.
Lawyer Rida Hosain termed the trial unjust.
“Article 10A of the Constitution guarantees an absolute and unqualified right to a fair trial and due process. The right to a fair trial includes an opportunity to defend the case against you, an adequate opportunity to prepare the defence, a right to a hearing, an independent and impartial judge etc. The fairness of the process is fundamental — it prevents arbitrary excesses and provides certain minimum safeguards. Justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done,” she added.
She added, however, that Section 366(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that a judgment shall not be deemed to be invalid by reason only of the absence of any party or his pleader on the day.
“The fact that the verdict was announced in the absence of Imran Khan in and of itself is not enough to declare the conviction invalid,” she said.
“Having said that, the manner in which the Toshakhana case was conducted raises serious questions on the fairness of the trial,” said Hosain.
Commenting on the legal implications of the verdict, Hosain explained: “Under Article 63(1)(h) of the Constitution, an individual with a criminal conviction for an offence involving moral turpitude (carrying a sentence of at least two years) is subject to disqualification for five years after release. The courts have held that ‘moral turpitude’ includes delinquent conduct involving misrepresentation, dishonesty, misappropriation, forgery, cheating etc. If Imran Khan’s conviction stands, he cannot be a member of parliament for five years after release.
Referring to Imran’s potential disqualification from holding public office following his conviction, lawyer Hassan A Niazi termed Pakistan’s disqualification laws “convenient tools to get rid of troublesome politicians at the behest of the unelected.” He argued that this case, like those that came before it, has little to do with corrupt practices.
“In the 90s, we had the Constitution’s dissolution provisions that were used to pull down political opponents. Now we have disqualification laws backed by incomprehensible Supreme Court judgments and enabled by the establishment.”
On whether the judgement would stand, given how it was announced in the absence of the accused, lawyer Abdul Moiz Jaferi said: “While it is the duty of the accused to present themselves in court and not the court’s duty to wait upon their arrival, the verdict is ridiculous for a whole host of other reasons.
“Technically the court should have ensured the presence of the accused, by use of force if necessary, and then announced the verdict. This method used today speaks to the extraordinary haste with which these proceedings have been conducted.
“A decision on the merits cannot be given without the accused being present, even though they can be declared fugitives or proclaimed offenders. The court cannot then proceed to adjudicate the merits of a criminal case and must declare the accused a proclaimed offender and then a decision on this offence is rendered.
“As a result of today’s decision, not only is Imran Khan convicted for three years, he is also disqualified for the relevant five-year period,” asserted Mr Jaferi.