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Prosecution team seeks time, IHC postpones hearing of Cipher Case till May 27

By News Desk

May 23, 2024 07:04 PM

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Islamabad High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb Thursday continued the hearing of an appeal of former prime minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi against their conviction in the cipher case, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

At the start of the hearing, FIA prosecutor Zulfiqar Abbas Naqvi told the court that his colleague prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah was shifting his ailing mother to Islamabad today, therefore Hamid Ali Shah cannot appear in the court, however, he himself will continue the arguments in the case.

FIA prosecutor said yesterday this impression was given that perhaps the prosecution wanted to delay the case but it was not the case. The prosecutor added that he was starting the arguments in the case.

During the hearing, the affidavits of both of state counsels were submitted in the court. On the occasion, the court summoned both counsels to the rostrum.

Whether both state counsels have ever tried a death penalty case before?, the chief justice questioned. Not as state counsel but as lawyers, Advocate General Islamabad replied. The affidavits of the two state counsels cannot be brought on the court record, the FIA prosecutor said. “No problem, we will eliminate them”, Chief Justice Aamir Farooq said.

“Two points are currently pending before the court”, the FIA prosecutor said. “One is the lack of transparency of the trial and the other is the merits of the case”, the prosecutor said. “If the court declares that the trial was not transparent, the outcome will be different”, the prosecutor questioned.

The “point of non-transparency of the trial was raised by Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi's lawyers and the prosecution never said that the trial was not fair”, Justice Amir clarified.

The chief justice said the court had asked prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah whether the cipher case trial was fair, and he had replied that the trial was fair.

“It would not be correct to say at this stage that the trial was not transparent”, the prosecutor told Justice Amir Farooq.

In the first phase, 9 hearings were held, out of which hearings were postponed 7 times, while in the second phase, adjournments were requested 19 times, prosecutor Naqvi told the court. The prosecutor further claimed that delaying tactics were repeatedly used by the accused in the cipher case.

The “statements of the witnesses were recorded but the cross-examination could not be done”, prosecutor Naqvi said.

Naqvi said the lawyers of the accused did not come on time in court hearings. 55 different applications were made during the trial, prosecutor said. “How many applications have been filed in the third phase,?” the court questioned from the prosecutor. 50 percent of the applications were filed in the third phase, prosecutor Naqvi replied.

“Can trial court conduct the proceedings after court hours,”? the chief justice questioned, adding that “what will be the effect if the trial court conducted the proceedings after court hours”?.

“If the court proceedings were held in Adiala Jail, what will be the case of the court hours on the jail hearing,”? CJ questioned.

“Are you saying that the trial was not fair and the case should be remanded”? Chief Justice questioned. “Yes, that's what I'm saying”, FIA prosecutor clarified.

“Lawyers for the accused filed frivolous pleas in the trial court”, the FIA prosecutor said. “You are saying that the accused's lawyers were delaying and there was no option but to appoint a public prosecutor? Chief Justice questioned the prosecution.

“Now at the stage, how can we send the case back to the trial court without looking at the merits?” the chief justice told the prosecutor. “Why there was so much haste in the trial”, Justice Miangul Hasan questioned. There was a death penalty case and it was completed in three weeks, Justice Miangul Hasan remarked.

This was the direction of the High Court, so the case was completed quickly, prosecutor Naqvi replied. “Supreme Court of Pakistan in its judgment directed the trial court to complete the trial soon”, FIA prosecutor said.

The “SC wrote that if the accused try to delay, an application for cancellation of bail can be made”, the prosecutor clarified. The “statement of any new witness cannot be recorded after court hours are over”, defendant counsel Salman Safdar clarified. “If the statement of a witness is being recorded, it is completed even after the end of court time”, Salman Safdar said.

The trial of the case was conducted on a daily basis? The court's questioned the prosecutor. This court also made a decision on trial on a daily basis, the prosecutor replied. The court asked the prosecutor to give arguments half an hour but the prosecutor was prolonging it, the defendant counsel Salman Safdar clarified. We have already given our arguments on merit, we are taking them to trial and adjournment, Salman Safdar said. An adjournment application was filed today by the prosecution, Justice Miangul Hasan said.

“Let the prosecutor present his arguments and do not interfere”, Justice Miangul Hasan told Salman Safdar.

“If the court comes to the conclusion that there was no fair trial, the case will be remanded”, the prosecutor said. “What will happen if there is no case for prosecution”? Chief Justice Amir Farooq inquired.

“You are saying that if the trial is not transparent, the High Court cannot go to the merits?” Chief Justice told the prosecutor. “You are saying that if the trial is not transparent, it is necessary to remand,”? Justice Miangul Hasan questioned the prosecutor. “You cited judicial precedents in favour of your argument”, Justice Miangul Hasan said.

Justice Miangul Hasan asked the prosecutor, “tell me, do you want one more week or ten days”?. “I need one more hour to complete my arguments”, FIA prosecutor told the court. “I will finish me in whatever time you want”, lawyer Salman Safdar said. “The case is getting delayed”, Chief Justice Aamir Farooq also remarked.

Meanwhile, the FIA prosecutor demanded that the hearing of cipher case should be postponed till 27 May. On this the CJ said that “the court will hear this case by canceling the regular division bench on the next date”.

The arguments were to be completed today, the court should not adjourn the hearing, advocate PTI pleaded. On FIA prosecutor’s request the court adjourned the hearing till May 27.


Reporter: Ihtesham Kiyani

News Desk

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