A district and sessions court in Islamabad issued non-bailable arrest warrants for PTI chairman Imran Khan on Monday in a case pertaining to using threatening language against a woman additional district and sessions judge and senior police officers, Dawn reported. Senior Civil Judge Rana Mujahid Rahim has instructed the police to arrest the former prime minister and present him before the court by March 29.
He also said that the court will hear arguments on Imran's petition seeking to be dismissed from the case in the next proceedings.
The PTI chairman had on August 20 condemned the police as well as the judiciary the over alleged custodial torture of Shahbaz Gill and announced that his party would file cases against Inspector General of Police (IGP) Akbar Nasir Khan, the DIG and Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, as per the report by Dawn.
Initially, Imran was booked under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). Besides, Islamabad High Court (IHC) also initiated contempt of court proceedings against him.
Later, the IHC removed the terrorism charges against Imran and also pardoned him after he tendered an apology in the contempt case. However, a similar case, filed after the registration of a first information report (FIR) against him for threatening the judge, is pending before the sessions court.
As the hearing resumed today, the PTI filed a plea requesting an exemption from personal appearance for Imran.
However, Judge Rahim issued a warning that non-bailable arrest warrants could be issued for the former premier if he failed to appear before the court today.
Dawn reported that after a brief recess in the hearing, Imran's counsel Naeem Panjotha filed another petition seeking the acquittal of his client in the case.
He said the in-person appearance of an application was not mandatory in the acquittal plea.
After hearing arguments, the judge reserved judgment on the exemption plea and said it will be announced later today.
Separately, another district and sessions court in Islamabad had earlier today reserved its verdict on a petition filed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan seeking an exemption from appearing before the court in the Toshakhana reference.
The verdict is expected to be announced by Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal till Monday.
Imran Khan has skipped indictment hearings in an Islamabad sessions court in the case, thrice.
He is accused of concealing, in his assets declarations, details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana -- a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept.
The judge had then issued arrest warrants for Imran and adjourned the hearing till March 7.
On March 5, an Islamabad police team was sent to Lahore to arrest Imran with the court summons. However, it returned empty-handed after the PTI chief evaded the arrest.
Subsequently, Imran had approached the Islamabad High Court last week seeking the cancellation of his arrest warrants.
On March 7, the IHC had suspended Imran's non-bailable arrest warrants till March 13 and instructed him to appear before the sessions court.
ADSJ Zafar Iqbal conducted a hearing into the case on Monday.
At the outset of the proceedings, Imran's counsel Khawaja Haris informed the court that his client was not able to appear today. "He is not refusing to appear, but due to security threats he cannot be present," he said.
Haris said similar appeals had also been filed before the Lahore High Court and the Islamabad High Court.
The ex-PM's counsel also raised objections to complaints filed by the ECP against the PTI chief in the case.
He recalled that the IHC had asked the sessions court to initiate legal proceedings against the PTI chief as per the law if he failed to appear before the court on March 13.
"Examining the matter in accordance with the law means that the court should also assess the admissibility of the complaint," Haris stated.
He went on to say that around 40 cases had been registered against Imran across the country. He said former premier late Benazir Bhutto was also not given the security that she should have been given.
"What happened to Liaquat Ali Khan is also a part of history."
Meanwhile, ECP counsel Saad Hassan, while presenting his arguments, said the case remained admissible for hearing until a decision was announced by the court.
He insisted that the ECP suspended Imran's arrest warrants just for a few days and asked him to appear before the court.
He said the PTI chief's arrest warrants were still "on the field".
Here, the court asked the ECP counsel if he wanted more time to file a reply on a plea challenging the maintainability of the commission's complaints. The lawyer replied in the affirmative.
Imran's lawyer urged the court to hear the plea today and announce its verdict.
As the arguments concluded, the judge reserved the verdict on the plea for Imran's exemption and said that the decision would be announced at 3:15 pm. (ANI)