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Supreme Court Declares Imran Khan’s Arrest “Illegal” and Orders Immediate Release

The PTI chief has been advised by a three-judge apex court bench to approach the Islamabad High Court again.

The Supreme Court has declared the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust case “illegal” and ordered his release “immediately,” providing a major relief for the PTI. The court has directed Khan to present himself before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and sent him to the Police Lines Guest House until tomorrow. The court also set a precedent that no person would be arrested within the premises of a court. The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, issued the verdict on PTI’s petition challenging Khan’s arrest. PTI welcomed the decision, while the government expressed its dissatisfaction.

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The PTI chief responded by sending a message to his supporters through the media present in the courtroom, urging them to refrain from damaging public and private property.

Today’s Hearing in SC:

The Supreme Court has declared the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust case as “illegal”, providing significant relief to the party.

The order came shortly after the PTI chief was presented in court. He was brought in a convoy of 15 vehicles amid strict security.

Although the Supreme Court had instructed the authorities to present Imran Khan, who was removed from the position of prime minister in April last year, at 4:30 pm, he was produced over an hour later, at around 5:40 pm..

After Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial termed the PTI leader’s arrest from the premises of Islamabad High Court (IHC) as a mighty disgrace to the country’s judicial establishment, the court issued directives to present Khan in the court.

While presiding over a three-member bench hearing the PTI’s petition challenging Khan’s arrest, the CJP made the remark. The bench, which includes Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, is hearing the case.

During the hearing, Imran Khan’s lawyer, Hamid Khan, informed the court that his client had gone to the Islamabad High Court to seek an extension of his interim bail. However, while Khan was getting his verification done, Rangers personnel forcibly entered the room.

“”He added that Rangers had arrested Imran Khan and treated him inappropriately.”

CJP Bandial asked about the case for which Khan was seeking a bail extension.

Justice Minallah asked if a plea could be filed before conducting the biometric verification.

The lawyer responded that Khan had undergone biometric verification because it was necessary to do so before filing a plea.

Justice Minallah questioned, “Why did NAB take the law in its hand? Wouldn’t it have been better for NAB to seek permission from the IHC registrar?”

The judge asserted that the provision of justice is the right of every citizen and the apex court has to ensure it. He further expressed his regret over the current situation in the country.

CJP Bandial remarked, “Where did the sanctity of the court go with the arrest from the court premises?”

Meanwhile, CJP inquired about the number of personnel who had arrested Khan.

Salman Safdar, another member of Khan’s legal team, informed the court that 80-100 men were present to arrest the PTI chief when the CJP inquired about the number of personnel involved in the arrest.

CJP Bandial expressed his concern over the number of people who entered the court premises and disrespected the court. “What is left of the honor of the court when 90 people entered the court premises? NAB has disrespected the court,” he said, adding that the court may not be considered safe anymore.

He added that Khan’s arrest had violated judicial sanctity, and no one could be arrested from the high court, Supreme Court, or accountability court.

Justice Minallah stated that if such arrests become a norm, it would discourage people from coming to the court.

“He added that a person who has surrendered before a court cannot be arrested.”

“The court will review the legality of the NAB warrant and its compliance,” CJP Bandial remarked.

The CJP added that the right to surrender before the court cannot be sabotaged.

Meanwhile, Safdar told the court that terrorists have Khan on their “target list” and that his security has been withdrawn. He also stated that the NAB’s investigation officer was not present at the time of Khan’s arrest.

Safdar said, “The way in which rangers arrested Imran Khan has no example.”

Justice Minallah commented that the same thing had been happening to different people by the anti-graft watchdog for years.

The bench was then informed by Khan’s lawyer Safdar that they had only learned of the warrants being issued on May 1 after the arrest had taken place. He further added that the interior secretary had informed the court that the PTI leader had not yet received the warrant.

The apex court inquired what the petitioner sought, to which lawyer Hamid Khan requested for Khan’s release to be ordered.

“Illegal work cannot be ignored,” CJP Bandial remarked, adding access to justice is the right of every citizen.

Lawyer Hamid Khan asserted that no activist or party supporter accompanied Imran Khan on May 9.

Inquired by Justice Mazhar, lawyer Hamid Khan responded that Imran Khan had already submitted a response to NAB on May 6.

“The response has been submitted to NAB and we are ready to submit it to the court,” said lawyer Hamid Khan in response to Justice Mazhar’s query about Imran Khan’s response to NAB notices.

“NAB’s arrest warrant is illegal,” he contended.

At this, Justice Mazhar remarked that the case was on the compliance of NAB’s arrest warrant, not of the legality of the warrant. He also asked why the PTI chief had not challenged the warrant and become part of the investigations.

Meanwhile, Justice Minallah remarked that NAB only wanted to make others follow the law but “it was evident that Imran Khan had also not complied with the NAB’s notice”.

Meanwhile, Justice Mazhar remarked that Imran Khan sent a response to NAB in May for the notice he received in March.

At this, the lawyer said that Imran Khan received only one notice.

“Justice Mazhar is talking about the implementation of law,” Justice Minallah remarked. He further asked if NAB had sought the registrar high court’s permission for the arrest.

NAB Prosecutor General Asghar Haider responded that the watchdog sought the interior ministry’s help for the implementation of the arrest warrant.

“Did the interior ministry implement the arrest warrant in the court premises?” asked Justice Minallah.

At this, the NAB official maintained that the implementation on the NAB warrant was done while taking the ministry on board.

“NAB has not learned its lesson in many years. There are many allegations against NAB including political engineering,” Justice Minallah remarked, adding that the watchdog has destroyed the country.

At this, NAB lawyer Sardar Muzaffar said that the court should also see Imran Khan’s conduct as he had shown resistance in the past.

CJP Bandial remarked that as per NAB the federal government had decided the procedure of compliance.

“Was any NAB officer present at the time of the arrest?” he asked.

However, the NAB officials failed to respond to this question.

Haider maintained that he wasn’t aware of all the facts as he had just been appointed. He said that even a private person can also execute the warrant.

At this, Justice Minallah remarked that NAB itself continues to execute its warrant.

Meanwhile, CJP Bandial remarked that the warrant was issued on May 1 while the arrest was made on May 9.

“Why did NAB not try to make the arrest for eight days? Did NAB want to arrest Imran Khan from the court?” the top judge asked. He also asked why the letter was written to the interior ministry on May 8. 

Meanwhile, Justice Minallah inquired how many notices Khan received.

At this, the NAB prosecutor said that only one notice had been sent to Khan.

“It seems NAB’s warrant was not in accordance with the law,” Justice Minallah observed. He asked if an attempt had been made for the arrest after the warrant was issued.

“Imran Khan was in Lahore, why didn’t NAB ask the Punjab government for the execution of the warrant?” he asked.

“Who arrested Imran Khan?” inquired CJP Bandial.

The NAB prosecutor replied that the law enforcers complied with the warrant on court order and according to IG Islamabad.

“Was the police monitoring the proceedings as per the court order?” questioned the CJP.

At this, Advocate General Islamabad Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon said that the Rangers arrested Khan while assisting the police.

The CJP asked how many Rangers personnel were present. To which, the advocate general said that the Rangers were there for the PTI chief’s security.

“NAB has expressed indifference with the compliance of the warrant,” remarked the CJP.

The advocate general said that there was no restriction under any law to seek permission from the registrar.

The CJP also inquired if the windows and the doors were broken.

Justice Minallah said that the windows cannot be broken even with the permission of the biometric branch. He also said to read Sections 47 to 50 of the Criminal Code in this regard.

At this, AG Jadoon said that it was not possible to arrest Khan somewhere else. “Imran Khan used to call on thousands of people on every appearance,” he added.

The CJP said that it is clear that no permission was taken.

CJP Bandial told the IG Islamabad to present Khan before the Supreme Court. He ordered to ensure that none of his supporters follow him to the court.

“Only Khan should be presented before the court. No party worker or crowd will be allowed to come to the court,” he remarked.

He added that the court was very serious about the vandalism and the loss of government property.

He said that the order will be issued today, adding that the investigation should be initiated from where the PTI chief was arrested.

Justice Minallah said that the way Khan was arrested cannot be defended.

The chief justice said that it was not expected of the incumbent government.

At this, the attorney general said that NAB was an independent institution.

“NAB has put all the blame on the federal government,” said Justice Minallah.

“NAB had requested to deploy the Rangers. They, however, did not request to deploy Rangers to execute warrants,” replied the attorney general.

Justice Minallah said: “Leave Imran Khan, even if there was a common citizen, this move would have been unbearable.” He said that the court does not want to talk about the legality of the arrest warrant. “Other political parties were also treated badly. It is time to establish the rule of law in the country,” he added.

This will be updated…

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