Pakistan court drops Imran Khan's sedition case, ruling on graft appeal due Tuesday

FILE PHOTO: Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan speaks with Reuters during an intervew, in Lahore

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani court on Monday quashed a sedition case against former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, a relief for the embattled leader whose appeal against conviction in a separate corruption case will be decided on by a high court on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old former cricket hero had filed an appeal in the Islamabad High Court, seeking to suspend his three year sentence on corruption charges handed to him earlier this month, saying he was convicted without being given a right to defence.

"Judgement is reserved," his lawyer Naeem Panjutha said in a post on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter about the graft case, adding that the court will announce the ruling on Tuesday.

The sedition case was registered in the southwestern city of Quetta in March, the capital of Balochistan province, based on an allegation that one of Khan's speeches was seditious.

Balochistan High Court said on Monday prosecutors had failed to obtain the required consent from the federal or provincial government to lodge sedition charges.

The charges are "without lawful authority and are of no legal effect," the court ruled, throwing out the case.

"God be praised," Panjutha said in a jubilant post on X platform about the ruling on sedition case, which was among dozens of cases brought against Khan after he lost a parliamentary confidence vote in April 2022.

Khan lost power after falling out with Pakistan's influential military, and his attempts to rally popular support have stirred political turmoil in a country already struggling through one of its worst economic crises.

A general election was expected in November, though it is likely to be delayed until at least early next year.

Khan cannot run and has been barred from holding political office for five years.

Aside from the graft and sedition cases, Khan is also facing charges ranging from terrorism and encouraging assaults on state institutions - after his supporters attacked military and government installations in May - as well as abetment to murder following the slaying of a Supreme Court lawyer in June.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)