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Imran Khan Appears Before Supreme Court via Video Link in NAB Amendments Case

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan appeared before the Supreme Court via video link on Thursday in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) amendments case.

A five-member SC larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Athar Minallah, and Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, is hearing the case. The case involves intra-court appeals filed by the federal and provincial governments against the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down certain NAB amendments.

The hearing’s broadcast status on the Supreme Court’s website and YouTube channel remains undecided until the bench makes a ruling.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court ordered arrangements at Adiala Jail for Khan’s video link appearance. The Adiala jail administration informed Khan about his video link appearance, and both the top court’s staff and jail authorities conducted a trial run before his appearance.

Khan, currently incarcerated in Adiala jail, had expressed a desire to appear in person to present his arguments, but the court permitted him to defend himself via video link instead. His lawyers, Khawaja Haris and Intezar Panjutha held a brief meeting with him in jail following the Supreme Court’s order.

Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa had remarked that Khan could present his arguments via video link if he wished, during a hearing of the federal government’s appeal against the Supreme Court’s 2023 verdict that annulled some NAB amendments.

Khan has been out of public view since August 2023 after his conviction in the Toshakhana case led to his arrest. Despite securing bail in some cases, he remains imprisoned due to other convictions, including those related to cypher and unlawful marriage.

If the bench decides to livestream the hearing, it will mark Khan’s first virtual public appearance in almost 10 months. According to Adiala jail authorities, Khan’s video link appearance was scheduled per the apex court’s orders, but he is free to decide whether to appear.

In September 2023, a three-member Supreme Court bench approved Khan’s petition challenging amendments made to the accountability laws during the previous PDM-led government. The court, headed by then-Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, held over 50 hearings and restored graft cases against public office holders that had been closed following the amendments.

The apex court’s decision to nullify the amendments has significant implications, as it reinstates various graft cases against prominent political figures. These include the Toshakhana reference against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the LNG reference against ex-premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and the rental power reference against former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Following the verdict, the federal government filed an appeal under Section 5 of the Supreme Court law against the order. The outcome of these legal proceedings could have far-reaching consequences for the country’s political landscape.

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