IHC questions credibility of e-evidence in cipher case

Judge says there is lie on internet until something is verified as truth

Fiaz Mahmood May 09, 2024
Former PTI chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi. PHOTO: FILE


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) raised several questions about the authenticity and credibility on the material available on the internet, while hearing appeals of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan and senior leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi against their conviction in the cipher case.

The bench, led by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and including Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb heard the arguments presented by Special Prosecutor of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) FIA Hamid Ali Shah regarding electronic evidence.

The prosecutor told the bench that leaked audios of four people, including the founder PTI, were available on the Internet in which Imran, who was the prime minister at that time, could be heard as telling the colleagues to play with the cipher.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq remarked that such a technology was available in which voice could be matched. The chief justice also told the prosecutor that the audio of a former chief justice was leaked and later it turned to be false.

Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb asked the prosecutor as to who posted the leaked audio on the Internet. He also asked whether the prosecutor took everything on the internet as truth. “I don’t,” he added. He also said that there was lie on internet until something was verified as truth.

The prosecutor said that on September 28, 2022, those audios were uploaded from a verified account of one Azhar.

Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb asked whether this Azhar was called and asked how did he bugged the audio of the Prime Minister's Office?

The judge also asked the prosecutor whether he wanted to leave Azhar, but take what he said. He said that the FIA should get to the bottom of the matter. However, Shah told the bench that the leaked audio was not the only evidence the prosecution relied.

Special FIA Prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah told the court that a Pakistan Television (PTV) cameraman gave the statement that he recorded the speech of PTI founder to a rally on March 27 2022 in which he saw Imran waving a paper.

Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb questioned whether the FIA was now relying on the statement of the cameraman, instead of Azam Khan, who was the principal secretary to the former prime minister. The prosecutor said that the next witness was Foreign Office Director Iqra Ashraf.

Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb said that Iqra Ashraf wrote in her statement that her statement was not final. The judge added that Iqra Ashraf showed honesty that the FIA took her statement in haste. He asked the prosecutor, whether he would rely on an inconclusive statement.

Prosecutor Shah replied inconclusive did not mean that the statement was made in haste. Rather, he continued, something more can be added. However, the judge remarked that he could not rely on an inconclusive statement. Later, the hearing was adjourned till Thursday (today).

Meanwhile, a separate IHC bench, led by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and including Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on a petition challenging call-up notices to PTI founder and his wife Bushra Bibi in a new inquiry.

The two-judge bench heard the petition filed against notices sent by NAB in the inquiry related to Toshakhana gifts. The lawyer for the petitioners took the stance that his clients had already been imprisoned in Toshakhana reference.

He prayed the court to stop NAB for taking any action against his clients. The chief justice remarked that the call-up notice was already ineffective as per the date given on it. The court adjourned further hearing till next date.



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