Chairman PTI, Shah Mehmood’s bail application filed in another court

In a recent development in Islamabad, Pakistan, the legal proceedings regarding the Saif-ur-Rehman case, which involves Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, took an unexpected turn. The PTI’s legal team filed a bail request for Chairman PTI and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the court of Justice Abu Al-Hasnat Zulqarnain.

The court revealed that Justice Zulqarnain is on leave until September 8th due to a personal matter concerning his spouse. As a result, the hearing on the bail application was postponed.

During the proceedings, PTI’s legal team, comprising Salman Safdar, Babar Awan, and Naeem Bokhari, appeared before Justice Raja Jawad Abbas. They requested that their bail application be heard as soon as possible.

Justice Raja Jawad Abbas responded by clarifying that he is not the duty judge for the Official Secrets Act. He mentioned that the Official Secrets Act case will be referred to the Islamabad High Court, where it will be heard as per the law. He also explained that he can hear cases from the 24 courts as a duty judge, but not those related to the Official Secrets Act.

The PTI’s legal team insisted on the urgency of their bail application, emphasizing that it should be heard immediately after arrest. Justice Raja Jawad Abbas agreed to consider their request and asked them to file the application formally.

The PTI’s lawyers, at the same time, filed a formal bail application in the court. Special Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi questioned the basis for filing a bail application in Justice Zulqarnain’s court under which law. PTI’s lawyer Salman Safdar replied that if the judge says he doesn’t have jurisdiction, they will be forced to go to the High Court.

Justice Raja Jawad Abbas responded, stating that he has not mentioned being unable to hear the case. He explained that according to government notifications, the Official Secrets Act case would be heard in his court. He further added that he would listen to the arguments based on the evidence presented.

Salman Safdar continued by expressing that they found it strange that their case had taken this course and that they had not heard of bail being granted during public holidays. He reiterated their request for the bail application to be heard.

Special Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbas stated that new cases come up daily, and he questioned if there would be a similar provision for bail for an ordinary accused person. He asked if the duty judge for bail applications would also hear cases during weekends.

Justice Raja Jawad Abbas responded by saying that the law applies to everyone equally and clarified that the April and June 2023 notifications are separate. He affirmed that the Official Secrets Act case could be heard in his court as per the new notifications.

Justice Raja Jawad Abbas scheduled the hearing on the PTI’s bail application for 12 PM on the same day.

As for the Saif-ur-Rehman case, the hearing has been postponed until September 7th, as requested by the PTI’s legal team. The Chairman PTI and Shah Mahmood Qureshi are expected to appear in court for further proceedings on that date.