In a major relief to Imran Khan, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday suspended the former Prime Minister’s sentence in the Toshakhana case and ordered his release from jail.
A division bench of the IHC, comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Tariq Mehmood Jahangir, announced the short order, declaring the conviction of the case as suspended.
As per the order, the former premier has been directed to submit surety bond worth 100,000 PKR and a guarantee of at least one person for his release.
Addressing mediapersons outside the IHC, Khan’s lawyer Babar Awaz said that after suspension of the trial court verdict, his position as the chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has also been reinstated.
“After the suspension of trial court order, Imran Khan can no longer be kept at the Attock Jail. Also, after the court order, Imran Khan’s position as the party chief also stands reinstated. After this, PTI and Imran Khan will move towards elections,” Awaz was quoted as saying.
Khan was arrested on August 5 from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore after a trial court issued its verdict in the Toshakhana case, finding the PTI chief guilty of opting to corrupt practices for personal gains using his office and its powers.
It sentenced him to three years in jail and imposed a fine of 100,000 PKR.
The trial court verdict also added that Khan would serve at least six-months more jail term if he fails to pay the fine.
In the wake of Tuesday’s verdict, the PTI leadership and supporters are in celebration mode as they termed the decision of the IHC as their victory.
However, legal experts say that the IHC has not cancelled Khan’s conviction or disqualification, but has suspended it and issued a bail, adding that trouble was not yet over for the former Prime Minister.
“The IHC has suspended Imran Khan’s sentence. It has not cancelled the case, nor has it ended the Toshakhana case against him. The suspension of the trial court means that there would be a re-trial into the case and PTI would file an appeal in the same case as well. Therefore, Imran Khan’s disqualification and conviction still stands and would be later decided in the re-trial proceedings”, said Hafiz Ahsan Ahmed Khokar, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The IHC verdict is based on the merits of the case and its trial at the session court.
The court had earlier stated that the merits of the case were not considered, and witnesses of Khan were also not allowed to record their statements, making the whole trial process a missed trial.
Meanwhile, Khan is still declared as arrested in two other cases — the 9 May riots and Cipher case.
It is believed that he might be be kept in Attock Jail or may be moved into another prison as per his arrest in the other cases.