Court Reserves Verdict on Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi’s Iddat Appeals: Judgement Due May 29

A district and sessions court in Islamabad reserved its verdict on Thursday regarding the appeals challenging the sentences of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in the iddat case. The court, presided over by Judge Shahrukh Arjumand, will announce its judgement on May 29.

Court Proceedings and Legal Arguments

The appeals pertain to the seven-year sentences handed down to the former Prime Minister and the former First Lady. Representing PTI, counsel Usman Riaz Gul and assistant counsel to Khawar Maneka’s lawyer, Rizwan Abbasi, appeared before the court.

During the hearing, PTI’s lawyer, Gul, argued that the case was politically motivated, pointing out that the complaint was filed almost six years after the alleged incident. He emphasized that the matter should fall under the jurisdiction of a family court rather than a criminal court. Furthermore, he highlighted Bushra Bibi’s statement under Section 342, asserting that she had completed her iddat period after her divorce in April 2017 before remarrying.

On the other hand, Deputy District Prosecutor Adnan Ali insisted that the conviction should be upheld. He argued that there is no legal exemption for such cases from criminal prosecution. Ali also stated that the complainant, Khawar Maneka, did not seek the annulment of the marriage but rather punishment for contracting the marriage during the iddat period. He accused the PTI founder of repeatedly interfering in Maneka and Bushra’s lives, leading to their separation.

Legal Controversies and Previous Court Rulings

This case has been marked by significant legal controversies and previous court decisions. On April 30, the district and sessions court in Islamabad rejected Maneka’s plea to transfer the iddat case to another court. Maneka had cited a lack of trust in Judge Shahrukh Arjumand, claiming that the court exhibited a favorable attitude towards PTI. However, Judge Arjumand refuted this claim, asserting his impartiality throughout his judicial career.

Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi’s legal team had previously expressed frustration over what they perceived as delaying tactics employed by Khawar Maneka’s lead counsel. These delays, coupled with the court’s decision to postpone the iddat case, have been contentious points in the ongoing legal battle.

The Iddat Case

The iddat case was initiated by Khawar Maneka, Bushra Bibi’s former husband, in November 2023. Maneka alleged that Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi married without observing the mandatory waiting period—iddat—required for Muslim women between two marriages. According to Islamic law, a woman must observe a waiting period following a divorce or the death of her husband before she can remarry. This period is intended to ensure that there is no uncertainty regarding the paternity of any offspring and to provide a period of reflection and respect for the previous marriage.

Sentences and Appeals

On February 3, 2024, a trial court sentenced both Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi to seven years in prison for contracting the marriage during the iddat period. The couple subsequently challenged the verdict in the Islamabad District and Sessions Court, leading to the current appeal proceedings.

Political Implications

The case against Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi has significant political implications, given Imran Khan’s prominent position in Pakistani politics as the founder of PTI. The allegations of political motives behind the case reflect the contentious and often polarized nature of Pakistani politics. Imran Khan’s supporters argue that the charges are part of a broader strategy to undermine his political influence, while his opponents view the case as a necessary legal action to uphold Islamic and legal principles.

Awaiting the Verdict

As the court prepares to announce its verdict on May 29, the outcome will be closely watched by both supporters and critics of Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi. The case highlights the intersection of legal, political, and religious dimensions in Pakistan, underscoring the complexities involved in high-profile legal battles.

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