Pakistan SC declares Imran Khan’s arrest ‘unlawful’ and orders his ‘immediate release’

ISLAMABAD: In great relief for Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled the former prime minister’s arrest “unlawful” and ordered his immediate release after he appeared in court on his orders.
The order to produce Khan, 70, was issued by a three-member bench, including Pakistan’s Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah.
The bench, which heard Pakistan President Tehreek-e-Insaf’s plea against his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case, expressed anger over the way Khan was arrested at the High Court premises in Islamabad.
The bench had ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to produce Khan by 4:30 p.m. local time when the court would reconvene.
Khan was brought before the court under tight security. When he entered the courtroom, it was closed, and thereafter the bench resumed hearing the case.
“Good to see you,” Chief Justice Bandial told Khan.
“We believe that Imran Khan’s arrest was unlawful,” the top judge said.
He said Islamabad High Court is expected to hear the case on Friday. “You will have to accept what the High Court decides,” added the judge.
Bandial also said it is the responsibility of every politician to ensure law and order.
Earlier today, Bandial asked how an individual could be arrested on court premises. Judge Minallah observed that Khan had indeed entered the court premises. “How can someone be denied the right to justice?” He asked.
The court also observed that no one could be arrested by the court without the permission of the court clerk. She observed that arrest amounted to denying access to justice without fear or intimation, which was the right of every citizen.
He also said that entering a courthouse means going to court and how a person could be arrested after surrendering. “If an individual goes to court, what does it mean to arrest him?” said the Chief Justice.
Khan’s lawyer, Hamid Khan, informed this court that his client had applied to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for bail before his arrest, but was arrested by paramilitary Rangers.
“Rangers misbehaved with Imran Khan and arrested him,” the lawyer said.
The court also took note of around 90 to 100 Rangers personnel entering the court to arrest Khan. “What dignity remains in the court if 90 people enter its premises? How can an individual be arrested on court premises? asked the Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Bandial also observed at one point that the National Accountability Office was in “contempt of court”. “They should have obtained permission from the court clerk before the arrest. Court staff members were also victims of abuse,” he said.
Khan was arrested by the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday and a liability court handed him over to the National Accountability Bureau for eight days on Wednesday in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case.
The former prime minister approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday to quash the May Day NAB arrest warrants and to challenge the Islamabad High Court’s decision to declare the arrest “unlawful”.
Earlier, the IHC expressing anger over the way Khan was arrested confirmed his arrest hours after his abduction.


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