SC declares Imran Khan's arrest 'illegal', orders his immediate release

SC declares Imran Khan's arrest 'illegal', orders his immediate release

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday declared Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former premier Imran Khan's arrest from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) as 'illegal'.

The appex court also directed the PTI chief to approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The directives were issued by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial as the court resumed hearing Imran’s plea against his arrest.

The top court said Imran would be kept in the Police Lines Guest House but would not be considered a prisoner, and directed the Islamabad police chief to ensure the ex-premier’s security.

“The government would have to guarantee Imran’s security,” the CJP instructed.

Earlier, the court had ordered National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to produce former premier in the court within an hour.

A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah heard Imran Khan’s plea against his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The authorities concerned produced the PTI chief in the court amid tight security.

When the hearing resumed, after Imran’s arrival in court, the CJP called the PTI chairman to the rostrum and said: “Happy to see you.”

“There have been incidents of violence after your arrest,” Justice Bandial said, adding, “We want peace in the country.”

“It is being said that PTI's workers came out in rage,” he said and told Imran that the court wanted to hear him.

The top judge observed that the PTI chief was present in the IHC’s biometric courtroom on May 9. “When a person comes to the court of law, it means that he surrenders before the court.”

Justice Bandial then remarked that Imran’s arrest was “illegal” and directed the PTI chief to approach the IHC. “You will have to accept the high court’s decision,” the top judge said, reiterating that Imran had to appear before IHC tomorrow (Friday).

The CJP also said that Imran would be kept in a guest house supervised by the SC and directed the Islamabad police chief to ensure the PTI chief’s security.

At one point, the PTI chief appealed to the court to let him stay at his Banigala residence in Islamabad but the CJP told him that he was under the court’s supervision.

“We don’t want you to be harmed,” the CJP said, reiterating his directives for the government to ensure all the needed security arrangements for Imran.

In court, Imran Khan claimed that he had been "abducted" from the IHC and subjected to physical assault, saying that he had been beaten with clubs and that such brutality was not even inflicted on criminals.

The former premier said that he had no knowledge of what had occurred after he was tortured.

The CJP remarked that the PTI chief should condemn the violent protests that erupted after his arrest on Tuesday.

Imran Khan responded by stating that he and his party have never engaged in violent activities and that they have always sought peaceful means to achieve their objectives, including the demand for free and fair elections.

The PTI chief that he has always urged his supporters to remain peaceful and avoid spreading chaos in the country.

At the outset of the proceedings, Advocate Hamid Khan counsel for Imran Khan said that his client had approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for pre-arrest bail.

He said that Imran was in the process of getting his biometrics done when he was arrested. Rangers misbehaved with Imran Khan and arrested him, he alleged.

The lawyer said that the PTI chief was arrested by Rangers personnel breaking down doors and windows.

The CJP said that according to the court records, the case had not been fixed for hearing.

Hamid Khan said that the appeal could not be filed without completing the biometric process.

Justice Athar asked how could anyone be denied the right to justice?

Chief Justice Bandial said that there was a certain respect for the courts.

He recalled that the court had reversed the arrest in past when NAB had arrested a suspect from the Supreme Court’s parking lot.

The CJP said that the NAB had assured the court that no similar action would be taken again, after which the SC spared nine officers of the bureau from contempt proceedings.

He asked Hamid Khan about the number of Rangers personnel who had carried out the arrest of Imran Khan.

The counsel responded that around 100 rangers personnel entered court premises to arrest Imran Khan.

Justice Minallah asked if the right of access to justice could be waived.

He asked if it would not have been appropriate to take permission from the NAB registrar.

He also asked why the NAB took the law into its own hands.

On Wednesday The PTI had filed a petition in the top court challenging the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision calling Imran Khan’s arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) “legal”.

Earlier, the petition was returned to the PTI after registrar's office attached objections to the plea.

The PTI chief was arrested in the Al-Qadir Trust case from the IHC premises where he appeared to seek bail in multiple FIRs registered against him.

IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Aamer Farooq took notice of the incident and summoned Inspector General (IG) Islamabad Police, the secretary interior and additional attorney general.

He has directed to inform immediately who was behind the arrest and in what case has Imran been arrested in.

The IHC CJ maintained that action will be taken, "even if it has to be taken against ministers".
Justice Aamer Farooq, who had raised questions over the Rangers' move to arrest Khan from the court's premises earlier in the day, announced the reserved verdict.

Later, the IHC termed the arrest of the PTI chairman "legal" in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The IHC also issued notices to the Islamabad inspector general of police and the interior secretary over contempt of court.

The chief justice ordered the high court registrar to get a first information report (FIR) registered over the circumstances of the arrest, which included manhandling the lawyers present nearby as well as damage to the court building.

He had  also instructed the registrar to conduct an inquiry and submit a report by May 16.