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IHC Confirms May 8 Hearing for Bail Pleas in £190m NCA Scandal Case

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has assured the defense lawyer that the bail pleas for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan and Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the £190m NCA scandal case will be scheduled for hearing in two days (May 8).

During a session presided over by a two-member bench of the IHC, comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb, appeals against the conviction of both PTI politicians in the cipher case were discussed.

The former prime minister and the former foreign minister were sentenced in the case on January 30 this year.

At the beginning of the hearing, defense lawyer Latif Khosa informed Chief Justice Farooq that the bail petitions in the NCA scandal case were still pending.

In response, CJ Farooq stated that the hearing would be arranged for May 8, as the previous cause list was suspended due to his health issues. He mentioned conducting the day’s hearing despite his health concerns due to the importance of the cipher case.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor, Hamid Ali Shah, also attended the hearing and explained that all cipher telegrams marked with a “classified stamp” are disposed of after six months, even if they are declassified.

Hamid informed the court that the National Security Committee (NSC) had completed the prescribed procedure for the classified document by March 31, except for returning its copies to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Regarding the absence of a defense lawyer during testimony, CJ Farooq questioned its impact on the defendant’s testimony.

The FIA prosecutor replied that under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the presence of a defense lawyer during testimony was unnecessary.

The legality of the sentence for “willful” and “negligent” loss of the classified document was also questioned by CJ Farooq.

The FIA prosecutor defended the verdict, explaining that both charges were based on different actions by the accused.

He further explained the security measures required for handling diplomatic cables.

Justice Aurangzeb inquired whether ex-PM Khan’s principal secretary Azam Khan personally signed the confirmation receipt after receiving the classified document.

The prosecutor clarified that Azam’s staff received the cipher’s copy, which was later handed over to the former premier.

The court noted that the case outcomes should be treated separately, adjourning the hearing until Wednesday, May 8.

Regarding Imran Khan’s legal battles, he was ousted from power in April 2022 via a no-confidence motion. His party alleged foreign interference in his removal.

Khan was arrested in August last year following his conviction in the Toshakhana case. Appeals in various cases, including the cipher and un-Islamic marriage cases, are ongoing.

In April, the IHC suspended Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi’s 14-year sentences in the Toshakhana reference, scheduling the main appeal hearing after Eid holidays.

However, Khan remains in custody facing multiple criminal charges, including violating the Official Secrets Act, terrorism, and corruption.

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