Islamabad, Pakistan – October 4, 2023
In a significant development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has decided to conduct an open court hearing for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s bail plea in the cipher case, which was registered under the Official Secrets Act. The decision comes after the IHC had earlier reserved its verdict on the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) request for an in-camera hearing.
According to the verdict delivered today, the IHC has scheduled the open court hearing for Imran Khan’s bail petition on October 9. However, there’s a crucial stipulation: discussions related to documents deemed sensitive will be held in-camera.
The FIA had initially sought an in-camera hearing for Imran Khan’s bail application in the cipher case, expressing concerns about the potential harm to Pakistan’s diplomatic relations if sensitive matters were publicly discussed. Under the Official Secrets Act, a trial is typically not made public, and the FIA Special Prosecutor Shah Khawar had emphasized the need for confidentiality, especially concerning statements related to other countries.
Imran Khan’s lawyer, Salman Safdar, had opposed the FIA’s request for an in-camera hearing.
This legal battle stems from Imran Khan’s arrest in the cipher case, which led him to file a bail application in the IHC last month. The case is being overseen by a special court established under the Official Secrets Act and involves Imran Khan and his party’s Vice Chairman, Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Their previous post-arrest bail applications had been rejected by the special court.
As the case unfolds, the decision to conduct an open court hearing while safeguarding sensitive information underscores the importance of transparency and confidentiality in legal proceedings of this nature.