In a detailed verdict issued on November 18, 2023, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Aamer Farooq expressed that the charges against former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and former Foreign Minister and PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the cipher case are too serious to warrant bail.
The 10-page judgment outlined that anyone who incites or conspires to commit a crime is viewed as a prime suspect, making it challenging to approve the bail applications of the two PTI leaders. The court emphasized the need for a delicate approach to bail applications, especially when the charges carry maximum penalties of life imprisonment and death, as is the case for both Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The verdict clarified that the denial of bail is not a penalty in itself but rather a precautionary measure considering the severity of the charges. Both Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi face charges with the potential for life imprisonment and, in some instances, the death penalty.
The court’s decision to reject bail does not imply guilt but rather underscores the gravity of the accusations. The Chief Justice directed both Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi to complete the trial within four weeks. The trial will proceed, allowing the legal process to unfold, with the court emphasizing the need for a thorough examination of the allegations given their serious nature.