IHC dismisses PTI chairman Imran Khan’s bail plea in cipher case

In a significant legal development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has rejected the post-arrest bail petition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman in a cipher case registered under the Official Secrets Act. The court also turned down his plea to quash the first information report (FIR) related to the cipher case, marking a significant legal setback for the PTI leader.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq announced the verdict, which had been reserved since October 16, following thorough arguments. The Special Court established under the Official Secrets Act had previously rejected the PTI chairman’s bail request.

The IHC, in its written order, deemed both of PTI chairman’s petitions “without merit” and subsequently dismissed them. The court emphasized that the observations made in its verdict were provisional and should not prejudice the trial court’s proceedings.

The IHC order indicated that the petitioner had an “effective and alternative remedy” by pursuing an appropriate application under Section 249-A (the power of a magistrate to acquit the accused at any stage) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Furthermore, it emphasized that even if the arguments for quashing the FIR were accepted, it could not be partially quashed due to the involvement of other co-accused individuals.

The court noted that the contents of the cipher only warranted a demarche and not further strict action, as there was no evidence of any conspiracy. It also highlighted that the PTI chairman’s address to the public gathering was a political engagement and not an action taken as part of his duties as the Prime Minister.

The verdict underlined that, in cases related to the Official Secrets Act, bail should be denied when serious allegations are made, and there is a prima facie link between the accused and the offense. Given that the evidence in the case was largely documentary, the cited case law for granting bail was considered irrelevant.

The PTI chairman had previously challenged the indictment proceedings in the cipher case in the IHC, which was also rejected. The court refused the request to halt the trial, indicating the legal challenges the PTI chairman faces in this matter.

The Islamabad High Court’s decision to dismiss the bail petition and the plea to quash the FIR in the cipher case holds significant implications for the PTI chairman. The legal proceedings surrounding this case are far from over, and as the trial continues, the legal landscape and its outcomes will continue to be closely watched.

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