The Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared the jail trial of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in the cipher case ‘null and void’, effectively annulling the August 29 notification.
The decision was announced by a court division bench, which included Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz. This verdict came in response to an intra-court appeal by Imran Khan against a previous decision by a single-member bench that had approved the jail trial.
While the IHC declared Khan’s intra-court appeal admissible, it also maintained the appointment of Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, overseeing Khan’s trial under the Official Secrets Act. The court stated that the law ministry’s notification issued on November 15 for Imran Khan’s jail trial was now invalid. A detailed verdict will be issued later, with only a short order released currently.
During the hearing, Khan’s lawyer, Salman Akram Raja, argued that the portion of the trial conducted before the cabinet notified the jail trial was illegal. He requested the court to accept his client’s plea against the jail trial.
The Attorney General of Pakistan, Mansoor Awan, admitted that Khan’s family had initially been barred from the courtroom due to space constraints but insisted that the jail trial was open. After hearing both sides, the IHC reserved its verdict, with the short verdict expected to be announced in the evening.
The cipher case originated with a First Information Report (FIR) filed on August 15 under the Official Secrets Act, based on a complaint by the Home Secretary. Imran Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, both currently in judicial remand, were indicted on October 23. The FIR alleged that the former prime minister and top diplomat manipulated the contents of a diplomatic cipher for malicious purposes, thereby endangering state interests.