A two-member division bench reserved the verdict, which will be announced at around 5:30 pm today
- The verdict will be announced today at around 5:30 p.m.
- The judgment of the two-member IHC division bench is reserved.
- The judge says a short order will be issued today.
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday reserved judgment on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s intra-court appeal against the jail trial in the cipher case.
A division bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Riffat Imtiaz reserved the verdict on the plea, which will be delivered at around 5:30 pm today.
Justice Aurangzeb said during the hearing that a short order on the appeal would be announced today, adding that the detailed order would be passed later.
In a hearing on November 14, the Supreme Court stayed Khan’s prison case in the cipher case. The PTI leader is currently lodged in Adiala Prison after being arraigned by Special Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain.
The IHC order came after the caretaker federal cabinet approved the jail trial of Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the case.
Previously, the ousted prime minister – who was removed from office following a no-confidence motion in April last year – had approached the IHC against the prison case, which was rejected by the single bench of the court on October 16.
The single-member bench of IHC Chairman Aamer Farooq ruled that there was no apparent malice behind conducting Khan’s jail trial in the cipher case. The court also directed him to approach the trial court if concerns persist.
Later, Khan filed a court appeal against the single bench’s decision.
At the start of the hearing, Khan’s lawyer Salman Akram Raja presented his arguments and said that there is due process in a prison trial that must be followed.
Raja told the court that in a prison case, the court has to pass an appropriate reasoned order. “Following [the order]“The second stage involves the approval of the federal government at the request of the chief commissioner,” he explained.
He added that the government would have to inform the Supreme Court after Cabinet’s approval.
“The Cabinet has to approve the order, although in this case the Cabinet had not given approval before November 12,” Raja said.
Raja further said that the judge should issue a court order including the discovery, stressing that there has been no such order so far.
“That is the fundamental illegality in this case,” he said.
Khan’s lawyer told the court that the judge wrote the letter to the Justice Department on November 8, but it was not a court order.
He further said that he believes the first request for a prison trial comes from the prosecutor’s office.
“The judge wrote in his letter that the prison procedure should be approved to avoid future complications. Despite the approval of the Cabinet, the notification will not be applied retrospectively,” he added.
Raja claimed that in the letter sent by the Chief Commissioner to the Home Ministry and then to the Law Ministry, the judge was talking about the future and not the past.
Lawyer Raja said a summary was then sent to the Cabinet. “The summary prepared on November 10 did not include the previous prison trial,” he argued.
Khan’s lawyer said the Cabinet had approved the trial and issued a notification. “However, the judge did not subsequently ask for approval. How can the Cabinet give its approval for something?” [judge] “I didn’t ask for it,” he asked.
“Do you think the November 13 order meets the requirements of law?” questioned Justice Aurangzeb.
Raja then said that he did not believe it was legal as the Cabinet had given its approval without a court order.
The bench adjourned further hearing to Tuesday (today).
What is Ciphergate?
The controversy arose on March 27, 2022, when Imran Khan – less than a month before his ouster in April 2022 – waved a letter in front of the crowd at a public rally, claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation, with whom he conspired his political rivals demanded the fall of the PTI government.
He did not reveal the contents of the letter, nor did he mention the name of the nation from which it came. But a few days later, he accused the United States of conspiring against him and claimed that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu had requested his removal.
The cipher was about former Pakistani ambassador to the US Majeed’s meeting with Lu.
The former prime minister claimed he was reading content from the cipher and said that “Pakistan will be forgiven if Imran Khan is removed from power.”
Then, on March 31, the National Security Committee (NSC) took up the matter and decided to issue a “strong demarche” to the US for its “flagrant interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs.”
Later, after his ouster, then Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called a meeting of the NSC, which concluded that it had found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cable.
In the two audio leaks that took the internet by storm following these events and shocked the public, former Prime Minister, then Federal Minister Asad Umar and then General Secretary Azam Khan were allegedly heard discussing US encryption and its use discussed it to their advantage.
On September 30, the federal cabinet took note of the matter and set up a committee to investigate the content of the audio leaks.
In October, the cabinet gave the green signal to take action against the former prime minister and handed over the case to the FIA.
After getting the order to investigate the matter, the FIA summoned Imran, Asad Umar and other leaders of the party, but the PTI chief challenged the summons and got a stay order from the court.
In July 2023, the Lahore High Court (LHC) revoked the FIA’s stay order against the recall notice to Imran and initiated formal proceedings.
In August, Khan and Qureshi were charged under the Official Secrets Act 1923 in the cipher case after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) invoked Section 5 of the said act.
Khan and Qureshi were indicted by the special court and are currently detained at Adiala Prison in the cipher case.