Despite the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserving its verdict on Imran Khan’s petition challenging the Law Ministry’s notification to hold his trial in Attock jail, the Ministry of Law has issued a notification expressing “no objection” to conducting the trial of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman in Attock jail under the Official Secrets Act. The notification cites legal rules and orders and security concerns as the reasons for this decision.
Imran Khan, who is currently in judicial custody until September 13 in the cipher case, had filed a plea in the IHC through his counsel Sher Afzal Marwat, contesting the legality of the ministry’s notification.
Imran Khan has been in prison since August 5 following his conviction in the Toshakhana case for not properly declaring gifts he received while in office. The IHC’s decision to overturn a lower court’s ruling to jail him for three years with a fine of Rs100,000 has kept him behind bars due to his judicial remand in the cipher case.
The cipher case against Imran Khan was initiated on August 18 under the Official Secrets Act 1923, with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) invoking Section 5 of the law. The case alleges that Imran Khan deliberately misused a classified document, leading to the establishment of a special court under the Official Secrets Act, which subsequently extended his judicial remand.
In his petition, the PTI chief requested the court to declare the notification null and void, arguing that it was “illegal” to relocate the court proceedings to Attock jail.
IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq reserved the verdict on the plea challenging the ministry’s notification after hearing arguments, with the court seeking an explanation from the respondents.
The cipher case began when Imran Khan brandished a letter on March 27, 2022, claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation that called for his government’s removal. He later identified the United States as the sender and accused Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu of demanding his removal based on the cipher.
The controversy led to the National Security Committee issuing a demarche to the foreign nation for interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs. Subsequently, investigations revealed that Imran Khan had used the US cipher for his political advantage and to divert attention from a vote of no-confidence against him.
Imran Khan’s principal secretary, Azam Khan, confessed that the cipher was used for political purposes, including creating a narrative against the establishment and the opposition. Azam Khan’s revelations added weight to the cipher case against the former prime minister.