The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday granted protective bail to PTI chairman and deposed premier Imran Khan after he filed a plea to avoid arrest following the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) booking him in a prohibited funding case.
According to the high court's orders, Imran was granted bail until October 18 for a surety bond of Rs5,000.
The IHC also barred the FIA from arresting the PTI chairman.
Imran appeared before the court on the orders of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who heard the case the same day the plea was filed.
چیئرمین پی ٹی آئی عمران خان اسلام آباد ہائیکورٹ پہنچ گئے۔— PTI (@PTIofficial) October 12, 2022
Additional Attorney General Barrister Munawar Iqbal Duggal appeared before the IHC and was asked why the special court was not hearing the case.
The additional attorney general maintained that a section of the Foreign Exchange Regulation was attached to the documents. Therefore, he added, it also fell under the domain of a sessions judge. He further argued that the special court could hear the case at this stage.
The IHC CJ, in conversation with Imran’s lawyer Salman Safdar, noted the court would hear this issue again in case it was not resolved.
Subsequently, the court adjourned the hearing till Tuesday next week.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Minallah asked Imran’s lawyer which court should hear the prohibited funding case.
Safdar replied that two of the co-accused had approached the banking court for bail. However, he added that both the banking court and central court special judge had declined to hear the matter.
The chief justice then questioned why the PTI chief was absent from the court.
Imran’s lawyer said if the court ordered it, his client would appear in the courtroom immediately.
He added that Imran was absent because of extraordinary circumstances and that his residence in Bani Gala was surrounded by police.
The IHC stated that Imran should not be arrested until he appeared before the court and further stopped the administration from harassing him.
Later, the former premier was brought to the high court amid tight security and soon appeared in the courtroom.
Imran’s plea stated that the FIA had registered a case under the Foreign Exchange Act against him and the IHC should grant him protective bail so that he could appear in the court concerned.
IHC Assistant Registrar Asad Khan raised three objections on Imran’s protective bail application, including that the PTI chief had not undergone biometrics and an uncertified copy of the FIR was attached to the plea.
He further questioned how the PTI chief could approach the high court before going to the relevant special court.
However, Imran’s lawyer still submitted the application to the court and it was fixed for hearing on the same day.
Separately, FIA Commercial Banking Islamabad Assistant Director Muhammad Nadeem has been appointed as the investigating officer of the prohibited funding case against Imran and other PTI leaders and a formal investigation has kicked off.
He will be assisted by the inspector and subordinate staff of FIA Commercial Banking Circle as well as its technical and legal department.
The FIA officials have also sent a report to their high-ups in which they wrote that they registered the case against the PTI chief and other party leaders after examining all aspects about it.
They added in the report that they had obtained permission from the high court registrar to obtain the data of all PTI accounts.
Letters and reminders were sent to the PTI chairman, party secretary general, and also its secretariat in Islamabad through special messengers and registered posts to provide records and required information about the funding.
However, the data was not provided.
In a related development, the FIA Karachi has summoned PTI leaders Imran Ismail, Najeeb Haroon, and Seema Zia again on Thursday (today) in connection with the prohibited funding inquiry.
According to sources, a questionnaire was issued to the three leaders on their previous appearance to submit answers with evidence.
The agency has asked them to provide the proof of permission from the central party to open an account for provincial constituencies.
The three leaders have also been asked to provide a registration certificate of the provincial election commission for opening a PTI account for the constituencies.
The permission of the central party has also been sought regarding the transfer of funds from home and abroad and the use of money in the opened account.
The leaders have been asked to present reasons in writing for not opening an account in the name of the party without the certificate of the central party.
Written reasons have also been sought for the account opened in the name of the party being operated by individuals.
According to sources, bank officials, who opened the account without the permission of the central party, have also been called in the inquiry.
PTI leader Samar Ali Khan has already recorded his statement with the FIA in the prohibited funding case.
A day earlier, it had surfaced that the FIA had booked the PTI chairman, other party leaders, its financial team and a manager of a private bank in the prohibited funding case.
Besides Imran, PTI leaders Senator Saifullah Khan Nyazee, Sardar Tariq, Syed Younis, Aamir Kayani, Tariq Shafi, Hamid Zaman and members of the party’s financial team as well as a manager of a private bank have been nominated in the case.
An FIR read that the former ruling party leaders had violated the Foreign Exchange Act and were declared as the beneficiaries of suspicious bank accounts.
It added that Abraaj Group had transferred $2.1 million to the bank accounts of the PTI.
The PTI had submitted Abraaj Group’s founder and CEO Arif Naqvi’s “forged” affidavit to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
In the affidavit, the party had claimed that all amounts collected by Wootton Cricket Ltd (WCL), also owned by Naqvi, were submitted into PTI’s account in Pakistan.
The affidavit turned out to be false as two more transactions were also made from WCL to two different accounts in Pakistan in May 2013.
The agency also accused an official of a private bank of assisting the PTI in concealing these details.
The FIA had said a case under Sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 477-A (falsification of accounts) and 109 (punishment of abetment if the Act abetted committed In consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) of the Pakistan Penal code had been registered against Imran, his party leaders and the management of the private bank.
They had also been booked under Section 23 (penalty and procedure) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.
The FIA kicked off its probe against the PTI in August this year after the ECP had declared in its verdict that the party had indeed received illegal funding.
The case had been filed by PTI founding but disgruntled member Akbar S Babar which had been pending since November 14, 2014.
The written order of the ECP stated that the political party had received illegal funds from foreign countries including the US, UAE, UK and Australia.
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