An Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Wednesday denied former Pakistan Prime Minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan's plea for interim bail extension.
The plea was made in a case involving a demonstration held in front of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after its ruling in the Toshakhana case, reports DAWN.com.
The verdict was announced by Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan on the grounds of non-appearance in court.
In a short order released Wednesday (15 February), the court said: "It has transpired from the available record that multifarious opportunities have been provided to the present applicant [Imran] to put up appearance before the court but to no avail."
It was recalled that the PTI leader's instant pre-arrest bail was preferred on 24 October, but that he failed to show up in court on 31 October, 21 November, 28 November, 9 December, 19 December, 10 January, 31 January, and again today.
"Due to the protracted nature of the instant bail application, the matter can not be stretched for an indefinite period, thus no further opportunity seeking dispensation from personal attendance shall be allowed," the court said.
"Ergo, the instant application seeking dispensation from personal attendance in medical grounds for today is accordingly dismissed."
The order also said that the petitioner's appearance before the court on the date when the matter was set for the final order is "sine qua non" (absolutely necessary).
"Therefore, instant pre-arrest bail petition is dismissed due to non-appearance of petitioner Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi," it added.
Earlier today, the court rejected the ex-premier's request for exemption from appearance on medical grounds. "Imran Khan should appear in court by 1:30pm," the ATC judge said in an order announced at 1:20pm.
The PTI leader has been recovering in his Zaman Park home in Lahore since since he was hurt in an attempted assassination while his caravan was making a pit stop there while they were marching on Islamabad.
Imran attempted to fly to Islamabad today but was unable to, according to Imran's attorney Babar Awan, reports DAWN.
The PTI leader had already been given till 15 February to appear in court.
Imran was charged with terrorism in October 2022 after PTI members protested outside ECP offices across the nation after it disqualified the former prime minister in the Toshakhana issue.
The PTI leadership urged supporters to protest as soon as the judgement was made public. Police and protestors reportedly clashed in Islamabad, Peshawar, and Karachi as well.
Imran's lawyer Babar Awan began the ATC hearing today by stating that he wanted to submit certain points in the case before reading out the FIR registered against his client.
"The case against Imran was registered on the violation of Section 144," he pointed out, arguing that in the view of the ATC, this was not a terrorism case.
"The court has already approved bails of other persons named in the case," Awan contended. He requested that terrorism charges from the FIR should be removed.
At that, the judge said that the court was currently hearing Imran's bail plea.
"Is the violation of Section 144 also punishable?" Imran's lawyer asked here, adding that the additional sessions judge had granted Imran interim bail till 27 February.
"I request the court to extend my client's bail till then as well. Imran tried to travel but he couldn't," he said.
Awan went on to say that Imran "has never run away from court or the country" and appealed for a last chance. "I am ready to submit surety bonds worth Rs10,000."
The lawyer then requested the court for time to consult Imran regarding the matter after which the hearing was adjourned.
Meanwhile, the PTI said on its official Twitter account that Imran will hold a press conference at 6pm (Pakistani time) today.