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Imran calls for probe into his cell after government disputes ‘solitary’ claim

10 min read

ISLAMABAD: After the federal government furnished ‘pictorial evidence’ to challenge PTI leader Imran Khan’s claim of solitary confinement in Adiala Jail, the former prime minister asked the Supreme Court to order an inspection of his jail cell.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, however, observed the court may assign a judicial officer to conduct a discreet check, but did not propose any date.

On Thursday, the five-judge Supreme Court also reserved its ruling on the federal government’s intra-court appeal against the Sept 15 majority judgement that ruled amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) illegal.

At the fag-end of the proceedings, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan told the Supreme Court that the federal government had furnished a report with photographs of Imran Khan’s jail cell. The report contained details of visitors from Sept 2023 until May 30, 2024, saying during this period Imran Khan met his family members, lawyers and politicians.

If this court deems it necessary, it may appoint a judicial officer in the form of a commission to verify the facts as submitted before the court, the report submitted in view of the statement made by Imran Khan at the last hearing on May 30 regarding his living conditions said.

The facilities available to Imran Khan in jail include an LED screen, room cooler, study table and chair, an exclusive corridor for a walk twice a day, a separate kitchen with a menu decided by him, books, an exercise bike, and a stretching belt for fitness, as per the report.

Imran ‘pained’ by SC remarks

Dressed in a turquoise shirt, Imran Khan attended the proceedings for about 30 minutes from jail via video link and complained about the remarks made by the Supreme Court regarding the ban on live-streaming of this case.

He said it had pained him to learn that the Supreme Court while rejecting the live-stre­a­m­­ing of the case had stated something as if he was some kind of an “irresponsible and dangerous character who will abuse the occasion for point scoring or grandstanding”.

On June 1, the court ruled that live-streaming was its exclusive domain but exercised with caution to avoid apprehension of exploitation, misuse of facility for ulterior or personal purposes and to prevent the possibility of grandstanding while the nation watches.

In response to the ex-PM’s remarks, the CJP, however, observed that the judges were not here to explain themselves and asked Mr Khan not to stray on grounds, which were alrea­­dy sub-judice and ultimately come to the court in appeal.

Justice Aminuddin Khan also observed that the issue of live-streaming had already been decided.

Speaking during the hearing, Imran Khan was of the view that the NAB chairman should be appointed by the Su­­preme Court to prevent abuse of power and added that amen­dments in the NAB law meant to save “certain leaders”.

Abuse of NAB law

Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail observed that there was no denying the fact that NAB had always been abused against the elected representatives but the remedy to rectify this misuse did not lie with the courts but with the political leaders.

“Tomorrow you can come to parliament and make a good accountability law,” Justice Mandokhail observed. Imran Khan said NAB “always listens to the third umpire” — a purported reference to the establishment.

Referring to the impact of the amendments in the NAB law, he regretted NAB recovered Rs295 billion from year 2000 to 2017, which jumped to Rs426 billion from 2017 to 2021. But it dipped to a mere Rs300,000 in 2023, Mr Khan said, regretting he was convicted in three cases within five days.

“The reason for less recovery was due to the pendency of the NAB case in the Supreme Court,” Justice Mandokhail observed. He claimed that jail always “matures” the politicians. To rectify NAB is not the job of the court but parliament, he said.

Justice Athar Minallah also observed that NAB amendments do not mean that corruption cases have come to an end rather references will be forwarded to relevant courts est­ablished under relevant laws.

During the hearing, the PTI founder did concede that his party should come to parliament but “we boycotted in view of the conspiracies hatched” against them.

He said the biggest challenge the country was facing was the lack of foreign exchange which was depleting because the hard-earned money was being laundered by the elites to the foreign lands.

He also cited a 2021 study by the UN which revealed how eli­tes of the developing world had parked $7 trillion in the West through money laundering.

The CJP wondered if money laundering was a curse, then why did the former premier introduce amnesty schemes in the country when he was in power? At this, Mr Khan explained that the amnesty scheme was introduced to “legitimise” the black money.

The CJP, pointing towards Senator Farooq Naek and PTI’s Faisal Javed, asked them to sit together in parliament to solve the crisis.

The court also took exception to the NAB report, in which it showed the recovery of $10 billion in the head of Reko Diq and asked the NAB additional prosecutor general (APG) whether this statement was “honest or dishonest”.

The court even warned of contempt notice for claiming to recover $10 billion, wondering if NAB had the audacity to mislead the court.

He also asked the NAB APG not to attend the court in future and ordered the NAB chairman and the prosecutor general to furnish a fresh report regarding the breakdown of the NAB budget for the last 10 years, as well as its annual budget.

Earlier, senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed also concluded his arguments.