Judge allows Imran to leave after marking attendance outside judicial complex
Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal on Saturday allowed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to leave after his attendance was marked outside the G-11 Judicial Complex amid unrest between police and party supporters.
Intense clashes broke out between the two sides as Imran’s convoy reached the judicial complex ahead of the party chairman’s appearance before a district and sessions court in the Toshakhana (gift depository) case.
The PTI chairman’s vehicle was stopped merely 100 metres from the gate of the judicial complex as the police blamed party workers for blocking the route while the PTI claimed the law enforcers were restricting Imran’s movement.
Despite the end of court hours, Imran Khan could not appear in front of the judge.
Judge Zafar Iqbal stated that the hearing and appearance could not take place due to continuous clashes between Islamabad Police and PTI workers outside the Judicial Complex.
After noting Imran Khan’s attendance, he asked all those there to withdraw quietly, without resorting to violence such as firing or pelting stones.
He further stated that the hearing cannot be held today and that the next date for the hearing can only be determined after receiving the signatures of the PTI chief.
The PTI head drove away from the Judiciary Complex without stepping out of his bullet-proof SUV.
Earlier, Imran Khan filed an application in the court, stating that he was present at the gate outside the complex, and his presence should be recorded at the gate.
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As the court resumed the proceedings today, the PTI chairman’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, informed Judge Iqbal that Imran has come to the gate but is being stopped from entering the premises.
Judge Iqbal inquired why was the PTI chief being barred from entering the premises. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) lawyer remarked that Imran ‘should have been here as the court started at 8:30am’.
The judge maintained that the ousted premier is “facing hardship”, adding that the court should wait for him.
PTI lawyer Awan also prepared a new application on behalf of the party chief. “I am at the gate of the judicial complex and I’m being denied entry,” stated the application.
The former premier requested the court to send its staff to mark his attendance and “initiate contempt of court proceedings against the police”.
After a short recess, Judge Iqbal directed court staff to take a police officer along and present Imran before the court.
To this, PTI counsel requested the judge to send PTI representatives with the court staff, to which the judge agreed.
Judge Iqbal then directed a court representative to mark Imran’s attendance outside the court premises. “Imran can go back once the attendance is marked,” stated the judge.
Complying with the court orders, court staff and Babar Awan left the courtroom to mark the PTI chief’s attendance.
Haris also informed the court that senior leader Shibli Faraz is being ‘tortured’ by the police. To this, the judge stated that he wants to end the current unrest.
The venue of the hearing was changed to the G-11 Judicial Complex instead of the F-8 Katcheri due to security concerns raised by the former premier. Judge Zafar Iqbal will preside over the hearing.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar sharply denounced the police for “preventing Imran from attending to court”. He went on to say that the former prime minister was close to the courthouse and that police were getting in the way.
Umar further claimed that instead of allowing Imran to appear in court, the cops began using tear gas. “The police are displaying the most heinous cruelty.”
Imran appeared in court for the first time today, after being summoned seven times. The Islamabad High Court has suspended the non-bailable arrest warrants issued for the PTI chairman until today, providing him the opportunity to appear before the sessions court voluntarily.
Imran’s convoy earlier reached the Islamabad toll plaza with reports of the route being blocked.