Today, Monday, the Islamabad High Court will hear Imran Khan’s intra-court appeal against a single-judge bench’s decision to let him go to jail for the cipher case and name a judge for the special court under the Official Secrets Act. Khan is the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PTI) and was the prime minister until he was removed.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan gestures as he speaks during an interview with AFP at his residence in Lahore on May 18. PHOTO: AFP

Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz make up the IHC division bench that will hear the case. Lawyer for the people of Pakistan, Mansoor Usman Awan, read out loud the decision of the single-judge bench at the last meeting on Thursday. He said that the intra-court appeal could not be made because the single-judge bench had made it clear that the jail hearing was an open case.

Justice Aurangzeb said that “open proceedings” meant that everyone should be able to see them. The judge asked if the two notices about the trial in jail were legal. The AGP answered that the PTI chairman’s jail trial notice was sent out because of safety concerns. They also said that the judge of the special court had written to the law ministry about this matter.
Awan said that Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a leader of the PTI and one of the other people charged, had asked to be tried in a normal court but his request was turned down.

In the same case, he also said, a co-accused person could not be tried separately in a public court. The AGP told the bench that on September 12, the judge had asked for a jail hearing for the first time. The bench said it was only for one time and asked why the judge had written to the federal government after turning down the prosecution’s request.

Awan said that the prosecutors had asked for the public to be kept out of the court. He went on to say that going to jail and keeping the people out of the trial were not the same thing. The AGP said that lawyers could go into the courtroom. He also said that a large room had been set aside in jail for the procedures.

At the end of his speech, the attorney general said that the jail hearing was not held behind closed doors. The bench then put off the hearing until Monday so that the PTI chairman’s lawyer could make counterarguments. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq told the special court that Imran and Qureshi are being tried in the cipher case on Wednesday that the case must be over in four weeks.

In his decision, the IHC CJ told the authorities to make sure the hearing was open and honest and that as many people as possible came to court, keeping security in mind. The court told the people in charge of the jail to protect the accused’s honor. The judge said that Article 248 of the Constitution did not apply to this case because of protection. Further, it said that the story covered criminal charges brought while on the job.

In the ruling, it was said that the PTI chairman was the leader of a major political party and that he was being tried in jail because his family had previously voiced concerns about his safety. It also said that bringing Imran to every court session could make things less safe.