Islamabad: In a major relief for Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared the former prime minister’s arrest “illegal” and ordered his immediate release after he was produced before a bench on its orders.
A three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah, issued the verdict while hearing a petition against his arrest from the Islamabad High Court premises on Tuesday.
The bench, while hearing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman’s plea against his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case, expressed anger at the way he was taken into custody by paramilitary Rangers and ordered authorities to produce him before it.
The bench had directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to produce Khan by 4:30 pm (local time) when the court would reconvene.
Khan was produced before the court amid tight security. As he entered the courtroom, it was closed, and subsequently, the bench resumed the hearing of the case.
“It is good to see you,” Chief Justice Bandial told Khan.
“We believe that Imran Khan’s arrest was illegal,” the top judge said.
He said that the Islamabad High Court should hear the case on Friday. “You will have to accept whatever the high court decides,” the judge added.
Bandial also said that it is every politician’s responsibility to ensure law and order.
Earlier in the day, Bandial asked how an individual could be arrested from the court premises. Justice Minallah observed that Khan had indeed entered court premises. “How can anyone be denied the right to justice?” he asked.
The court also observed that no one could be arrested from the court without permission of the court’s registrar. It observed that the arrest tantamount to denying access to justice without fear and intimation, which was the right of every citizen.