In a significant development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has declared the jail trial of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in the cipher case as ‘null and void.’ The division bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Riffat Imtiaz, issued the verdict in response to Imran Khan’s intra-court appeal against the approval of the jail trial.
The court ruled that the law ministry’s notification for the trial was “without lawful authority and no legal effect.” The judgment emphasized that a trial in jail can only occur in “exceptional circumstances” and must adhere to legal procedures.
The IHC further stated that the November 15 notification, approving the jail trial, “cannot be given retrospective effect.” All notifications related to the jail trial, issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice, were deemed to have no legal effect due to the lack of proper procedure and fulfillment of requirements.
Imran Khan is currently in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on judicial remand. The court’s decision raises questions about the legitimacy of the trial process that took place during Khan’s incarceration.
The cipher case, which has been at the center of controversy, revolves around allegations that Imran Khan leaked state secrets. The case began with an FIR registered on August 15 under the Official Secrets Act, prompted by a complaint from the Home Secretary.
Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi were indicted on October 23, with the first information report claiming they distorted diplomatic cipher facts, leading to a conspiracy to misuse the contents. Imran Khan asserted that the leaked diplomatic correspondence revealed a US conspiracy against his government.
The controversy escalated when the National Security Committee found no evidence of foreign conspiracy in the cable, contradicting Imran Khan’s claims. The case took a significant turn when the law ministry, citing “security concerns,” announced on August 29 that the trial would be held in prison.
The IHC’s recent decision nullifying the jail trial approval brings attention to the handling of the case and raises questions about the adherence to legal procedures.dr
The IHC’s ruling not only declared the jail trial null and void but also highlighted the need for exceptional circumstances to conduct a trial in jail. The court’s emphasis on legal procedures and the retrospective effect of notifications adds complexity to the legal landscape. Imran Khan’s legal team, arguing against the jail trial, has questioned the fairness of proceedings behind closed doors.