Imran Khan Entitled To Better Benefits Matching His Prisoner Class

In written order, IHC says state's argument that Adiala jail is overcrowded or there are security concerns in shifting Imran Khan from Attock jail do not hold water

Imran Khan Entitled To Better Benefits Matching His Prisoner Class

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan is entitled to better prison facilities and thus must be moved to Adiala Jail, ruled the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A five-page long written order, for the short order issued earlier, was released on Tuesday detailing why Imran's petition to move him from the Attock Jail to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi had been allowed.

"Since the status of the petitioner (Imran Khan) is a better class prisoner, he is entitled to all the benefits provided to such prisoners as are provided in the Pakistan Prison Rules, including Rule 261," observed the written order. 

The IHC further said that a request by Imran Khan's counsel for gym equipment must be filed before the Superintendent of the Attock Central Jail.

The court noted that following the suspension of his conviction in the Toshakhana case, Imran Khan is currently incarcerated in the cipher case pending trial. The case was registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). 

Imran's counsel contended that there is no justification or basis for keeping his client in Attock Jail as no cogent reason has been provided, adding that almost all jails in Pakistan are overcrowded. He further contended that in the past, most high-profile politicians, including deposed prime ministers, had been confined in Adiala Jail and that, as such, security should not be a concern.

"The Islamabad Capital Territory does not have a prison of its own, and all the under-trial prisoners, with respect to cases pending in the Islamabad Capital Territory, are confined in Central Jail Adiala, Rawalpindi," the order stated. 

"It is only after the conviction that they come under the supervision of the government of the Punjab and can be transferred elsewhere," the order added.
On the matter of overcrowding, the court noted that it is known and admitted that "all the prisons in Pakistan are overcrowded, and Central Jail Adiala, Rawalpindi is no exception."

The court, however, added that this cannot mean that the jail "cannot house another prisoner/person."
"Since the status of the petitioner is one of under-trial prisoner, hence he ought to be confined in Central Jail Adiala, Rawalpindi, and no justification exists for his confinement at the present place [Attock Jail]."

The court also dismissed security concerns expressed by the government in moving Imran from Attock to Adiala jail.

"There is nothing on record to substantiate the plea of the respondents regarding security concerns or lack of adequate security at the Central Jail Adiala, Rawalpindi."

The IHC set aside orders and notifications regarding Imran's transfer to the Attock Jail and approved his transfer to Adiala Jail. 

Imran had challenged his confinement in Attock Jail and requested the court to issue directions for shifting him to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. He had also sought perks and privileges as per his entitlement under the Pakistan Prison Rules, 1978.

Imran Khan was tried and convicted in the Toshakhana case in early August 2023. He was handed a three-year simple imprisonment sentence. Subsequently, he was arrested from his mansion in Lahore and whisked away via road to Attock Jail even though the court had committed him to Adiala Jail.

The government argued that due to overcrowding in Adiala and security concerns, the Punjab Inspector General of Prisons recommended that Imran be kept at the Central Jail in Attock.
Meanwhile, Imran challenged his conviction in the Toshakhana case in the IHC and sought suspension of the sentence. The IHC suspended the sentence and released Imran on bail in August 2023. 

However, Imran was rearrested in jail in the cipher Case under sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act of 1923. He was remanded into judicial custody by the Special Court and kept in Attock jail.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain