By Ahmed Saeed
Senior lawyers are opposing the ongoing operation of the police and Rangers to arrest Imran Khan and say that the non-bailable warrant of arrest issued in the Toshakhana case is a routine action, for which such an operation was completely unnecessary.
Former Vice Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, Abid Saqi, said that such warrants are executed by the deputy messengers of the courts and their purpose is not to arrest, but only to ensure the presence of the concerned person in court in their next appearance.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf had filed a plea against the arrest warrant in the Islamabad High Court, but the court upheld the arrest warrant and said that PTI should approach the relevant trial court for its cancellation.
The Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council Executive Committee, Hasan Raza Pasha is of the opinion that the DIG does not go to enforce such a warrant, instead it is the duty of the constable and if he fails, then it would fall on the SHO of the area to ensure that the concerned person makes a court appearance on the next date. He says that in this case, the police have clearly crossed all lines.
Senior lawyer and former president of the Supreme Court Bar, Hamid Khan says that the way force has been used for such a routine arrest warrant only shows ill-intention on behalf of the government and has therefore filed a petition to cancel the warrant in the High Court. When asked whether he would advise Imran Khan to give voluntary arrest, Hamid Khan said that he did not want to make public the conversation he had had with Imran Khan in this regard.
Kamran Murtaza, a senator and senior lawyer of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, which is part of the government coalition, also believes that such a large and violent operation over a simple arrest warrant is not justified in any way and it seems that the government under the guise of an arrest attempt, is testing public sentiment for something else to be expected in the future.
Who are the judges who issue arrest warrants?
It was Islamabad’s Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal who had issued the non-bailable arrest warrant for the former prime minister to appear in court on March 18 for the Toshakhana reference case. The preliminary proceedings of the case in the reference have been completed and the accused, Imran Khan is to be charged at the next hearing, after which the regular trial will begin.
The additional district and sessions judge had also previously declared the arrest of Mohsin Baig by the FIA illegal in February 2022 after which Imran Khan who was Prime Minister at the time, had ordered the Ministry of Law to file a reference against Iqbal in the Islamabad High Court and have him removed from office.
Imran Khan can be arrested for other cases too
According to Imran Khan’s close lawyer and former Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Owais, the government wants to arrest Imran Khan under the pretext of a court warrant and implicate him in many more cases, just so his party does not lead in the upcoming elections.
Ahmed Owais said that summoning warrants are issued in every court, but in actuality the police never really arrest the person. With the police crossing all lines to arrest Imran Khan, it is clear that there is a plan in place to pin other cases on him so that he is kept behind bars for a long time.
He said that if the high courts do not stop what is happening, then the Supreme Court will lose its honour and dignity in the eyes of the people and the country will become a victim of anarchy.
Is the PTI protest a constitutional right?
The Lahore High Court has issued orders to stop the police operation to arrest Imran Khan by Friday 10:00 am. In the operation which had gone on for more than 24 hours, tear gas was released and stones were pelted between the police and PTI workers, resulting in 60 police officers being injured, while according to Tehreek-e-Insaaf, the tear gas shells were expired because of which many of their workers were left unconscious.
Lawyers also add that the police used excessive force which had been absolutely unnecessary as it was the constitutional right of the workers to resist the arrest of their leader.
Abid Saqi says that the most worrying thing for him as a lawyer in this whole situation is that the government is stopping the people’s right to protest by force. “Protest is never wrong because raising their voice for their rights is the guarantee of people’s survival,” he says.
According to Chairman Executive Committee Pakistan Bar Council Hasan Raza, although it is the right of people to protest and it is the responsibility of the sate to ensure that the situation does not reach a level where police force has to be used.
Hassan Raza said that the Pakistan Bar Council condemns the incidents of violence by both the police and the protesters
Can Imran Khan be given the facility of video link?
Imran Khan has filed an application before the judge in the Tosha Khana case and has taken a stand that his life is in danger, so he should be allowed to appear through video link. In this regard, the lawyers had a conflicting position. According to Chairman Executive Committee Pakistan Bar Council Hassan Raza, Imran Khan should appear in person and request the court to conduct the rest of the proceedings through video link so that the dignity of the court can be restored.
However, according to Abid Saqi, the court should approve the request of Imran Khan to appear through video link because of the dangers faced by him, as this is the new normal. .