Imran Khan’s Cipher Case – Legal Twists and Turns in Trial

Imran Khan's Cipher Case

Imran Khan’s Cipher Case

Open court proceedings are set to resume at Islamabad’s Federal Judicial Complex as the Islamabad High Court (IHC)’s Division Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Hon’ble Ms. Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, orders a fresh start to the cipher case involving former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi and his close aide & former Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi. In this article, we’ll discuss all the details about the cipher case, its proceedings, and the Office Secrets Act.

IHC Orders Fresh Start

Following the directions and order from Islamabad High Court, Judge Special Court Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain has been given a deadline of four weeks to conclude the trial about the cipher case, nullifying the previous proceedings held in secret at Central Jail, Adyala Rawalpindi. The Islamabad High Court declared the notification for a jail trial as “erroneous,” and not effective retrospectively, leading to a restart of proceedings in the Federal Judicial Complex.

Legal Maneuvers and Challenges

Keeping in view the stakes involved in the case, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legal team assailed the appointment of a presiding Judge Special Court Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, but the Islamabad High Court validated the appointment, but on the contrary paved the way for open court proceedings, which had been PTI’s long-awaited demand. The legal team of the PTI Chairman has objected to the conduct of the prosecution and accused them of being malicious and unlawful many a time on social media as well as national media. The legal team challenged the IHC’s decision to validate the judge’s appointment, asserting that “malafide intent” in conducting a jail trial without proper legal procedures, is completely unlawful and illegal.

Possibility of Jail Trial

Many expect that the prosecution may file an application seeking direction to conduct the trial in jail, which has been recused by the Hon’ble Division Bench of Islamabad High Court in the previous hearing. Keeping in view the urgency of the situation and the prosecution’s desperation, it appears, they may attempt to seek this relief via fresh application in the coming week.

Trial Timeline

Sources reveal that the Trial will be concluded in 30 days including one week for charging and three more subsequent weeks to record testimony. According to the sources, the timeline to conduct the trial in 30 days is very ambitious and shows how desperate the prosecution is to charge the PTI chairman or to reach a conclusion. However, PTI Legal Team Member and spokesperson Muhammad Shoaib Shaheen presents another viewpoint according to which the order from the IHC Chief Justice is “directional” and not mandated wholly.  Therefore, it could be understood that there is some room for interpretations for the trial court to carry out while conducting the trial.

Cipher Case: Background and Indictment

Imran Khan waved a white paper in the Islamabad Procession on 27th March 2023. Imran Khan was accused of allegedly stealing a diplomatic document, which afterward led to a court case. In response to the allegations, PTI argues that PTI Chairman Imran Khan never waived the original cipher document to the public, rather it was a decoded copy of the original document and that too he chose to decipher it with the approval of the Federal Cabinet well before the procession, thus Imran Khan was never in possession of original cable.

Since then, the lawsuit concerning Cipher became a major lawsuit in Pakistan’s Special Court, which was held on Monday where former prime minister Mr. Imram Ahmad Khan Niazi and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi were sued due to their violations of the Official They constitute grave allegations and thrust the Cipher into the heart of a major legal drama.

Charges and Conspiracy

Imran Khan is said to have retained and transmitted the diplomatic cable in an illegal manner leading to the leakage of high information confidentiality issues between U.S. and Pakistani governments. Finally, another allegation is made regarding the use of the cipher in an Imran-hosted meeting. It’s alleged that Qureshi helped Imran commit this crime.
PTI will petition for his release in the Supreme Court of Pakistan while accusing the opposition of having plotted against Imran. Imran raises objections to the charges, stating that he does not have the minutes recorded for the meeting.

FIR and Allegations

The FIR registered against Imran Khan and Qureshi is under the Official Secrets Act and they will face charges for both wrong communications and unlawful possession of the diplomatic cable. The FIR also accuses other associates of Imran Khan, who will be investigated. Central to all the charges is the alleged clandestine meeting at the Bani Gala on March 28th, 2022 with a claim that through unauthorized possession and malice, the Cipher/National Security was intentionally compromised

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