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Khan’s Trial Twist: Court Halts Cipher Case Proceedings

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The Islamabad High Court has injected a dose of suspense into the trial of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the cipher case. The court has issued a stay order on the jail trial, a decision that unfolded during the hearing of appeals challenging the trial’s closed-door nature and demanding an open court trial. The case also involves a call for the appointment of a special judge under the Official Secrets Act. Justices Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb and Saman Riffat presided over the intra-court appeal, casting a shadow over Imran Khan’s legal proceedings.

The court’s intervention came as a response to appeals questioning the transparency of the trial and the appointment of the Official Secrets Act special court judge. During the hearing, Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb set the stage for the next hearing on Thursday, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive record detailing the rationale behind a jail trial in the cipher case.

The court’s decision to reject the attorney general’s plea against a stay on the proceedings added a layer of complexity to the unfolding legal drama. Justice Aurangzeb, during the proceedings, highlighted that the anti-terrorism court judge’s appointment had been initiated and concluded by the executive, with consultation from the chief justice. Drawing parallels with the Indira Gandhi case, the judge remarked on the importance of media coverage, emphasizing that the trial, though occurring within the confines of a jail, should not preclude public scrutiny.

The attorney general, Mansoor Usman Awan, contended that the federal cabinet had greenlit the jail trial in the cipher case. However, the court reiterated its stance that all trials should be conducted in open court, deeming the current scenario an extraordinary trial. The proceedings were adjourned until November 16, adding further anticipation to the legal unfolding.

In a post-hearing statement, Imran Khan’s lawyer, Salman Akram Raja, emphasized the fundamental constitutional requirement that trials should unfold in open court. Raja pointed out that the media, as well as the public, should have access to the proceedings to ensure transparency. Notably, the lawyer raised questions about the abrupt shift in the trial’s location, highlighting the contradiction between the recent cabinet decision and the ongoing proceedings in the jail.

As the legal proceedings take an unexpected turn, the Islamabad High Court’s decision to halt Imran Khan’s jail trial adds a layer of intrigue to a case that has captivated the nation’s attention. The questions surrounding the transparency of the trial and the sudden shift in the trial location create a backdrop for a legal narrative that continues to unfold.

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