A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Wednesday extended the interim bail of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other party leaders in the case registered against them on charges of violating Section 144.

A first information report (FIR) was registered against the PTI chief last month on charges of violating Section 144 (ban on public gatherings exceeding four persons) by holding a rally in the capital on August 20.

Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal took up the pleas of the PTI chief and other party leaders nominated in the case on Wednesday amid tight security arrangements.

Imran’s lawyer, Babar Awan appeared before the court while co-accused Saifullah Niazi, Sadaqat Abbasi and Shahzad Waseem were also present.

During the hearing, the lawyers for Imran, Faisal Vawda, Asad Qaiser and Asad Umar filed applications for exemption from personal appearance which the court accepted.

Awan stated that the PTI chief was preparing to contest the upcoming elections for nine vacant National Assembly seats and would not appear today.

“When is the election?” the judge asked, to which Awan replied that they were scheduled for September 25.

The lawyer also contended that the charges in the case filed were bailable. He also pointed out that this was the 21st case against Imran in which they were seeking bail.

“Who is the investigating officer (IO)? Is the investigation complete,” the judge asked, to which the officer replied in the affirmative, saying that the record was also present.

During the hearing, Awan pointed out that Asad Umar was in Lahore when the case was registered. “There is also a video recording of Umar,” he said.

The judge then directed the IO to investigate on merit as far as Umar was concerned. If Asad Umar was not involved, then remove him from the case, he said.

Awan then said Niazi was also not present in Islamabad when the case was registered and was heading a meeting at the time.

“Are you listening to this?” the judge asked the IO, directing him to remove those who were not involved.

The case

The FIR, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was registered on August 22 at the Aabpara police station under sections 109 (punishment of abetment if the Act abetted committed In consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The complaint, filed by Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Muhammad Anwar, also included section 2 (restriction on the use of loudspeakers) of the Control of Loudspeaker and Sound Amplifiers Act, 1965.

Murad Saeed, Faisal Javed Khan, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Asad Umar, Raja Khurram Nawaz, Ali Nawaz Awan, Faisal Vawda, Shahzad Wasim, Sadaqat Ali Abbasi, Shibli Faraz, Fawad Chaudhry, Saifullah Khan Niazi, Shehryar Afridi, Fayyazul Hasan Chohan, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Asad Qaiser, Zaheer Abbas Khokar and Major Ghulam Sarwar were the other PTI leaders nominated in the FIR.

According to the complaint, approximately 1,000 to 1,200 PTI supporters had gathered near Islamabad’s Zero Point Interchange “on orders of Imran” and carried the party’s flags.

“They were chanting slogans demanding Shahbaz Gill’s release,” the ASI said, alleging that they “scared and threatened” the residents by blocking the road.

He stated that commuters were stopped from passing through the area, which disrupted their daily activities. “The rally’s participants, while using loudspeakers, chanted anti-government slogans.”

The FIR added that during the rally, the Islamabad police had made announcements via loudspeakers that Section 144 had been imposed in the city and a ban had been imposed on rallies.

However, it went on, that the PTI leaders turned a deaf ear to the police and led the supporters to the F-9 park, all the while sloganeering on loudspeakers.

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