The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday reserved its verdict on a set of petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan against the Toshakhana trial, the Dawn reported. The pleas included Imran Khan’s application against the maintainability of a complaint seeking criminal proceedings against him on the charge of hiding Toshakhana gifts and a petition seeking the transfer of the said case to another trial court.
The third petition was filed earlier on Thursday seeking the right to defence in the case. Imran had filed these applications in the IHC after a trial court last month declared the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) reference against him was maintainable, the Dawn reported.
The charges were framed against the PTI chief on May 10. However, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq stayed the proceeding and recently directed Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar to re-examine the matter in seven days. The questions included whether the complaint had been filed on behalf of ECP by a duly authorised person, whether the ECP’s decision of Oct 21, 2022, was a valid authorisation to any officer of ECP to file a complaint, and whether the question of authorisation was a question of fact and evidence and could be ratified subsequently during the course of proceedings, the Dawn reported.
During the hearing, Justice Farooq heard arguments on the petitions by Imran’s lawyers Khawaja Haris and Gohar Khan. ECP counsel Amjad Pervaiz also presented his stance on the matter. The IHC CJ then reserved the verdict on the petitions, saying that the judgment will be announced today, Friday.
Toshakhana case filed by ruling party lawmakers is based on a criminal complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The case alleges that Imran had “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana — a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept — during his time as the prime minister and proceeds from their reported sales.
Imran has faced a number of legal issues over his retention of gifts. The issue also led to his disqualification by the ECP, the Dawn reported. On Oct 21, 2022, the ECP concluded that the former premier had indeed made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts.
The Toshakhana is a department under the Cabinet Division that stores gifts given to rulers and government officials by heads of other governments and foreign dignitaries. According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division. The watchdog’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution, the Dawn reported.
Subsequently, the ECP approached the Islamabad sessions court with a copy of the complaint, seeking proceedings against Imran under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as the prime minister.