Imran set to appear in public after nine months

Ex-PM to participate in SC proceedings via video link that will be live-streamed

Hasnaat Malik May 15, 2024
PTI chief Imran Khan. Photo: screengrab



After nine months, deposed premier Imran Khan will get first opportunity to give his appearance to the public through video link during the hearing of a federal government intra-court appeal against the Supreme Court’s majority judgement declaring amendments to National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 2000 as illegal.

Now the ball is in Imran’s court as how to he will avail this opportunity.

Will he emphasise his old narrative of “corruption” against his political opponents that he started in 2012 or will he talk about the interference of the ‘powerful circles' in accountability process for political objectives -- it remains to be seen.

The apex court in its judgments had held that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was being used for political engineering.

It has been learnt that PTI leaders would meet the party’s founding chairman on Wednesday (today) to evolve a strategy in connection with his public appearance.

This will be the first time Imran will appear before a bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, who faced a presidential reference during the PTI regime.

It is an open secret that the relationship between CJP Isa and the PTI remain tense since the filing of the presidential reference in May 2019.

Even a bench led by ex-CJP Gulzar Ahmed had held that Justice Isa should not hear cases related to Imran.

However, the PTI did not refer to this order during CJP Isa’s tenure.

There are serious concerns among the PTI leaders against CJP Isa for not giving them relief in matters wherein they are enduring a tough time at the hands of the security establishment.

However, Imran's first public visual after nine months will be a setback for those, who did not allow him to give a public appearance.

There are chances that the government will object to the live-streaming of the case.

A debate is also under way as to whether or not the bench should have allowed a convicted person the right to an audience.

One section of the lawyers believes that this will set a precedent wherein every convicted person will request for the right to an audience in public interest matters.

However, former additional attorney general Tariq Mahmood Khokhar said the SC’s decision to allow Imran to appear and address the court via video link was neither without precedent, nor an antithesis to the country’s constitutional principles.

"[Former premier and PPP founder] Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was allowed to appear in person before the Supreme Court in December 1978. [PML-N supremo] Mian Nawaz Sharif was allowed to appear in person before the Supreme Court shortly after General Musharraf’s coup in October 1999," he recalled.

Khokhar maintained that consistent with the SC’s recent practice, the live-streaming of Imran’s appearance would satisfy the constitutional fundamentals of a right to a fair trial and equality before law.

“The rule of law requires that adjudicative procedures should be fair and justice must manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”

Advocate Abdul Moiz Jaferii said the remarks from the bench initially when the application to be heard in person came up showed a clear divide where some judges were in favour of allowing the PTI founding chairman to present his own case while others were wondering how could Imran possibly assist the court given that the issue concerned points of law to which he was a layperson.

"It is his right to represent himself in court no matter how ill-informed he might be, and this is the view that the court came to as well,” Jaferii added.

“However, Imran Khan getting a public platform for the first time in months is significant in itself. No matter how hard the court tries to control the narrative and restrict him to arguing on the law, I think Imran Khan will have a proper showing in the court. It promises to get very, very interesting.”

Imran will be the third former prime minister, who is being given the right to an audience by the SC during imprisonment.

Earlier, during his detention in a murder case, Bhutto came to the SC and addressed the bench.

The SC, led by former CJP Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, had allowed Nawaz to speak before the bench during his imprisonment after the 1999 military coup. Now, Imran will address the SC during his imprisonment.


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