In a major relief for Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday (May 11) declared the former prime minister’s arrest “illegal” and ordered his immediate release after he was produced before a bench on its orders.
A three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah, issued the verdict while hearing a petition against his arrest from the Islamabad High Court premises on Tuesday.
The bench, while hearing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman’s plea against his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case, expressed anger at the way he was taken into custody by paramilitary Rangers and ordered authorities to produce him before it.
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The bench had directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to produce the 70-year-old leader Khan by 4:30 pm (local time) when the court would reconvene.
Khan was brought to the court in heavy security. As he entered the courtroom, it was closed, and subsequently, the bench resumed the hearing of the case.
“It is good to see you,” Chief Justice Bandial told Khan.
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After a brief hearing, the court declared that Khan’s arrest was “illegal” and of no consequence and ordered that he should be set free.
The court also directed him to go to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday and seek further legal recourse.
“You will have to accept whatever the high court decides,” the top judge said.
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Bandial also said that it is every politician’s responsibility to ensure law and order.
During the hearing, Khan told the court that he was “kidnapped from the court” when he was preparing for the biometric attendance before filing an appeal in a case. Khan claimed he was subjected to violence, saying that he had been beaten with clubs and that such brutality was not even inflicted on criminals.
When the chief justice asked him to condemn violence by protestors, Khan distanced himself from the bloody protests by saying that he was in custody. “How am I responsible for the bloody protests?” he said.
He also said that he never supported violence. “I urge everyone to avoid damaging public properties,” he said, adding that he was just pushing for elections.
His lawyers later said outside the court that Khan also called off all protests.
(With agency inputs)