SC order on Imran’s arrest to set legal course

ISLAMABAD, May 12: The ‘extra ordinary’ bail relief granted to former prime minister Imran Khan by the Supreme Court has stirred a legal debate, with experts seeing it as a victory for the battle-hardened PTI chief.

Though the Islamabad High Court will decide about the PTI chief’s pre-arrest bail today (Friday), Imran is lucky to grab the attention of the apex court.

A lawyer believes that the PTI chief has emerged victorious as the apex court proceedings will have a far-reaching impact on every court of the country, adding that now all the lower courts, including the high courts, will stand up against state institutions that have been active against Imran since April last year.

The lawyers agree with the court order wherein it is stated that the manner of execution of the arrest warrant issued by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman dated May 1, 2023 in the Al-Qadir Trust case within the premises of the IHC against the petitioner is invalid and unlawful.

The execution of the said warrant violated the petitioner’s right of access to justice and the sanctity and safety of the court as he had already surrendered to the court for seeking judicial relief.

“In this regard, the fundamental rights of the petitioner under articles 4, 9, 10-A and 14 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have been infringed”, says the written order.

However, one section of the lawyers has strong reservations over the manner wherein the bench addressed Imran during the hearing.

Imran who was produced before the bench was visibly “down”.

The judges wanted him to deliver a message to his party supporters through the media for restoring peace in the country. Imran, however, said that he is totally aloof about the happenings all over the country after his arrest.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial who welcomed him on the rostrum also urged Imran to resume political dialogue in national interest.

The government, especially the establishment’s, position has weakened after the relief given to Imran at this critical time.

It is learnt that the government functionaries are in shock over the outcome of the SC hearing. They were not expecting that the SC will go too much in favour of Imran.

The hearing will also affect the sentiments of military officials who are being targeted by the PTI supporters since the arrest of their leader on May 9. However, it is not clear what kind of reaction can come now.

The SC hearing will also affect the working of the IHC wherein controversy has already started over the release of two judges’ ruling in the Tyrian White case without the permission of the chief justice.

The lawyers appreciate the SC for discontinuing the precedent wherein accused persons could have been arrested within the court premises without getting access to justice.

They, however, say that now the SC should compel Imran to sit for dialogue in order to set the rules of the game before the elections.

Likewise, the judges should end the perception that they are shaping national politics in order to secure judicial politics.

The inclusion of Justice Athar Minallah in the special bench has also made a difference in Thursday’s hearing.

Justice Minallah is consistent in providing relief to the accused persons in matters related to civil liberties.

He has also an emotional attachment to the IHC wherein he worked as the chief justice for almost four years.

Justice Minallah, through judicial orders, had restored the confidence of every political party in the capital’s high court during his tenure.

A lawyer believes that the sanctity of the IHC premises was violated by arresting Imran from there, therefore his involvement in this matter was understandable.

If the IHC grants pre-arrest bail, the government has various options to deal with Imran as it can arrest him under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) from Islamabad.

Section 3 MPO stated: “The government, if satisfied that with a view to preventing any person from acting in any manner prejudicial to public safety or the maintenance of public order, it is necessary to do, may, by an order in writing, direct the arrest and detention in such custody power to arrest and detain suspected persons.”

CJP Bandial was firmer during the hearing. It also reflects how the unity of the court gives a powerful impact on the public.

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