ATC cancels Imran Khan’s bail in ECP protest case

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Wednesday cancelled PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s bail over non-appearance in a case pertaining to protest outside the office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

ATC Judge Jawad Abbas issued the order after the PTI chief defied a court order to attend the hearing. Earlier in the day, the court turned down a plea seeking exemption from personal appearance in the case.

The decision coincided with the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order to bar a banking court in the federal capital from deciding on a bail petition of Mr Khan in the prohibited funding case.

The PTI chief, secretary-general Asad Umar and dozens of party workers were booked in October last for alleged violence during the protests in Islamabad. The protest were staged by the PTI after the ECP disqualified Mr Khan as a member of the National Assembly over submitted a false affidavite regarding his assets. The case was registered at the Sagjani police station under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

During the hearing, the PTI chief’s lawyer Babar Awan argued that terrorism related sections were wrongly added in the case, adding that the court could give its findings at any time. “If court issues it findings, the case will be referred to the other court,” he said.

To which, the judge remarked how he could hear a case on merit when the suspect was reluctant to appear before the court. He said the ongoing case was related to Imran Khan’s bail. “I will treat an influential person and a common man equally,” Judge Jawad Abbas commented.

Mr Awan pleaded the court to extend the bail till Feb 27, adding that the PTI chief tried to travel for hearing but he couldn’t. He said he was ready to withdraw the bail petition if terrorism section was omitted in the case.

The judge remarked, “You can take back the petition at any time and there is also an option to get a protective bail from the Lahore High Court”. After hearing arguments, the judge granted him time till 2:30pm to decide either he will take back the bail petition or court will decide on it. After a short break, the court resumed hearing and rejected Imran Khan’s bail plea.

The PTI chief was granted an interim bail more than four months ago. As per the rule, the suspect has to appear before the court in personal capacity until he is on the interim bail.