Imran Khan and Qureshi’s bail approved by Supreme Court in cipher case
The Supreme Court on Friday sanctioned the post-arrest bail for former Prime Minister Imran Khan and ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, currently confined at Adiala Jail, in the cipher case.
The top court also directed the PTI leaders to submit surety bonds worth Rs1 million each.
This ruling was issued by a three-member bench chaired by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, accompanied by Justices Athar Minallah and Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, in response to a set of PTI petitions.
The cipher case revolves around a diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) alleges Imran never returned. The PTI contends that the document contained a US threat to remove Imran as prime minister.
The Special Court (Official Secrets Act) resumed the cipher trial at Adiala Jail after Imran and Qureshi were re-indicted on December 13. Initially indicted on October 23, both pleaded not guilty. However, the trial was halted when the Islamabad High Court scrapped the proceedings, terming the government’s notification for a jail trial “erroneous.”
The IHC endorsed Imran’s indictment but directed a “fair trial” by the special court. Seeking post-arrest bail, PTI moved the apex court, emphasizing that bail shouldn’t be used as punishment.
PTI counsel Salmar Safar commented after the hearing, stating that Qureshi should be released immediately. He pointed out that several of Imran’s pre-arrest bails had been confirmed and accused the government of amplifying the case.
Meherbano, Qureshi’s daughter, hailed the SC’s verdict, suggesting that it should have been granted by the high court and criticized the case as political victimization.
During the hearing, arguments focused on the authenticity of the cipher’s exposure and its handling. The PTI’s stance emphasized the document’s sensitivity and maintained that Imran never made its contents public. Questions arose regarding its usage, the involvement of the Foreign Office, and the legality of the charges.
The hearing exhibited the complexities of the case, including the contentions surrounding the cipher’s confidentiality, its transmission, and implications for Imran and Qureshi. The judges displayed skepticism regarding the handling of the document and its sensitive nature, hinting at the lack of substantial evidence against the accused.
The defense highlighted discrepancies in the investigation, the absence of clarity in the charges, and questioned the government’s motive behind the case, positioning it as a political ploy. However, the court, while acknowledging the gravity of the case, demanded more concrete evidence and consistency in the charges.
The session underscored the legal intricacies, revealing the need for more clarity on the document’s handling and the evidential weight against Imran and Qureshi, hinting at the necessity for a fair and comprehensive trial.