LHC grants Imran protective bail till March 3 in ‘rioting, terror’ case

LAHORE (Agencies): Marking an end to the hours-long ruckus created inside its premises, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday approved Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s protective bail plea till March 3 in a case pertaining to protests in Islamabad.
Meanwhile, the high court disposed of PTI chief’s second petition in case regarding protests outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after he withdrew his plea. The ousted prime minister, who was removed from power via a no-confidence move, was booked in the terror case in October last year after the Toshakhana verdict was announced by the ECP, sparking countrywide protests.
After Khan appeared before the court, the two-member bench granted him a protective bail till March 3. “Under the law, the petitioner is required to approach the court of first instance but in the interest of justice, we are inclined to grant him ad-interim anticipatory bail protective in nature untill 03.03.2023 to enable him to approach the court of first instance,” the written order issued after a while mentioned.
The court, however, clarified that this order shall cease to have its legal effect after the said date. The PTI chairman ‘finally’ appeared before the LHC on Monday after several notices served to him in order to present himself in two separate hearings as the judges told his lawyers that his presence was mandatory in bail pleas.
Despite reaching LHC premises within the allotted time — 5pm — the disposed prime minister could not appear before the court till around 7:30pm as his convoy was surrounded by a massive number of party supporters. Khan’s convoy faced difficulty in moving towards the courtroom due to a large number of lawyers and supporters gathering outside to support their party leader. Amid the mismanagement, the cricketer-turned-politician remain seated inside his car as a massive number of people increased security risk.
Due to the delay, the LHC had granted the former prime minister the last few minutes to present himself before the court after the initial deadline of 5pm lapsed, warning lawyers that the judges would leave if the former prime minister won’t reach the courtroom in the given time. The court ordered the security officials to immediately present the PTI chairman in the courtroom, following which Khan stepped out of his car amid tight security and limped towards the courtroom.
After multiple adjournments, a two-member bench of the LHC — headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi — resumed hearing of Khan’s bail plea. Advocate Khawaja Tariq Rahim — Khan’s counsel — apprised the bench that the former prime minister was present in the court’s premises and pleaded with the court to mark the attendance of the wounded leader in his vehicle. At this, Justice Najafi directed the counsel to produce his client before the court as he has reached the court’s premises. Referring to the rush inside the court’s premises, the lawyer said that Khan’s plaster would damage if someone pushes him. “Suspect’s appearance in court is mandatory for interim bail,” remarked the judge.
Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till 7:30pm. Earlier on Monday, Khan’s counsel, in view of the PTI workers’ massive rush inside the court’s premises, pleaded with the court to mark the attendance of the injured leader in his vehicle but the court turned down the request. Khan appeared before the court along with his counsel after the adjournment and sought a protective bail in the terror case. Taking the rostrum at the outset of the hearing, Khan said that he has to undergo x-rays on February 28. He pleaded with the court to grant him a two-week protective bail. The PTI leader also told the two-member judge that he respects the court as his party’s name also refers to ‘Insaf’. Later, Khan appeared in Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh’s court as the LHC had noted the discrepancy in the documents last week during the hearing of a protective bail plea of Khan, who was unwilling to appear in court due to security concerns.