ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday exempted top leadership of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), including President Dr Arif Alvi, from personal appearance in the cases registered against them in connection with violence during the party’s 2014 sit-in.
Besides President Alvi, PTI’s counsel Mohammad Ali Bukhari also sought exemption for Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai, PTI’s Punjab president Ijaz Chaudhry, Jahangir Khan Tareen, Asad Umar and others.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has already sought permanent exemption in these cases. After Dr Alvi took the oath as president of the country, his counsel advised him to avail presidential immunity.
ATC puts off hearing till Sept 10 in cases registered in connection with violence during 2014 sit-in
Article 248 (2) of the Constitution states: “No criminal proceeding whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during term of office.”
But President Alvi preferred to face trial and file an application for his exemption from personal attendance on every date of hearing.
ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan accepted the exemption applications and adjourned the proceedings till Sept 10.
The court also took up a discharge report filed by the Islamabad police to exclude former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from the case. Mr Qureshi had lodged a complaint against Mr Sharif for ordering a crackdown on the protest which turned violent.
Advocate Bukhari wanted to argue the case; however, when the judge inquired him about the papers of attorney from the complainant, the counsel requested the court to adjourn the proceedings, enabling him to obtain the papers from Mr Qureshi.
Police invoked the Anti-Terrorism Act against PTI chairman Imran Khan, Dr Alvi, Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood and Raja Khurram Nawaz for inciting violence during the sit-in.
As per the prosecution, three people were killed and 26 injured, while 60 were arrested. The prosecution has submitted 65 photos, sticks, cutters, etc, to the court to establish its case.
The prosecution said the protest was not peaceful and the accused sought bail after three years. PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers marched towards the Parliament House and the Prime Minister House on Aug 31, 2014, and clashed with police deployed at the Constitution Avenue.