IHC quashes terror charge against Imran

Says proceedings on other sections to continue in relevant forum

Our Correspondent September 19, 2022


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered removal of terrorism sections from a case registered against PTI Chairman Imran Khan for threatening Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry and officials of Islamabad police during a public rally in the federal capital.

The verdict was announced by a two-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, in a plea filed by the PTI to quash the terrorism case against Imran. The court ordered that the proceedings on other sections in the case would continue in the relevant forum.

The PTI chief had made the controversial remarks during a party rally in the capital on August 20 and was subsequently booked for “terrorism” under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Another case was registered against the former premier for violating Section 144. However, new sections were later added to the FIR, against which the PTI chief had approached the court.

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The sections added to the FIR later were Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 186 (imprisonment for three months), and 188 (disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

During Monday’s hearing, the chief justice questioned special prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi about the opinion of the joint investigation team (JIT).

The prosecutor submitted the JIT report before the court, saying the terrorism sections warranted in the case.

Special Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi informed the court a challan based on the terrorism charges was prepared.

However, Imran’s counsel Salman Safdar argued that some basic provisions were to be met for the terrorism charge to hold which he claimed were absent in this case.

“A case for terrorism can only be made when an atmosphere of fear and terror has been created, not at the mere possibility of such an atmosphere being created,” he said, adding that a legitimate request would have in that case “come from those who were targeted in the statement”.

Justice Minallah said if terrorism charges were to be applied against people on the argument being made then “in this way you will open up the floodgate.”

“Which politician does not say such things?” the judge asked, to which Abbasi disagreed and responded that “no politician had uttered such comments.”

The chief justice told him to “leave the issue” and not go into its details. He subsequently asked if there was a threat of causing a physical injury in Imran’s speech. To this, Abbasi responded that the PTI leader’s remarks were not limited to just bodily injuries.

“It is to be seen who said these words. He is not an ordinary person. That person is a former prime minister and can even be the future prime minister. Imran Khan’s political party has a strong social media following. There are educated and uneducated followers of Imran Khan,” Abbasi argued, adding that Imran, in his speech, said he would be “taking action” rather than taking “legal action”.

The chief justice remarked that terrorism provisions were misused in the past, referring to the example of former senator Faisal Raza Abidi, who was later acquitted of the charges.

The prosecutor argued that Imran’s speech was “by design”, at which Justice Minallah remarked: “[If] you could find nothing else in the investigation except for this speech then the design no longer exists.”

At the Islamabad rally on August 20, Imran had warned the judiciary against its “biased” attitude towards his party, saying that it should brace itself for the consequences.

The former prime minister had also warned additional district and sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved the two-day physical remand of his aide Shahbaz Gill on the request of the capital police in a sedition case, that she, too, would face dire consequences.

Moreover, the PTI chief had threatened to file cases against Islamabad’s inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police, saying, “We won’t spare you.”


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