IHC to resume hearing on Imran’s plea against Toshakhana verdict today

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By Webdesk

Policemen escorting Pakistans former PM Imran Khan as he arrived at IHC on May 12, 2023. — AFP
Policemen escorting Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan as he arrived at IHC on May 12, 2023. — AFP 

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will resume the hearing on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s petition against his conviction in the Toshakhana case.

On Tuesday, the IHC bench had adjourned the plea’s hearing till today (Thursday) while turning down the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) request for granting them two weeks to get the record.

On August 5, the former prime minister, who is currently incarcerated in Attock jail, was found guilty of corrupt practices in the case of misdeclaration of state gifts. 

The trial court in the federal capital had sentenced Khan to three-year in prison upon conviction, a move which is likely to bar him from standing in elections due later this year.

However, the PTI filed an appeal in the IHC challenging the trial court’s verdict and sentence against the party chief, requesting that the court declare the judgment “illegal” earlier this month.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court (SC) which heard a petition challenging IHC’s decision to remand the case back to the trial court judge who had convicted him, observed that the trial court had hastened Toshakhana verdict.

It acknowledged the “procedural defects” in Khan’s conviction, but opted to wait for the IHC’s decision on the former premier’s plea seeking suspension of the three-year sentence.

“Prima facie the decision by the additional sessions judge (ASJ) contains defects, but we will not intervene at this stage; rather [we will] wait for the outcome of the high court decision,” Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial observed.

The plea

Challenging the trial court’s verdict in IHC, the PTI sought the suspension of his conviction by Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar.

“It is most respectfully prayed that the Hon’ble Court may graciously be pleased to set aside the impugned judgement dated 05.08.2023, and declare the conviction, sentence imposed upon the Appellant to be illegal and without lawful authority and to acquit the Appellant of the charges framed against him,” the petition read.

Besides the sentence of incarceration, the additional district and sessions judge also imposed a fine of Rs100,000 after finding Khan guilty of graft in the Toshakhana case.

Following the arrest of the PTI chief, it was the third petition the party had filed.

A day earlier, PTI also announced to move Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against IHC CJ Chief Justice Aamer Farooq for not suspending Khan’s sentence.

What is Toshakhana case?

Under the rules governing Toshakhana — a Persian word meaning “treasure house” — government officials can keep gifts if they have a low worth, while they must pay a dramatically reduced fee to the government for extravagant items.

The Toshakhana has been under a microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Khan purchased the gifts he received as prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for staggering profits.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs140 million ($635,000).

The gifts included watches given by a royal family, according to government officials, who have alleged previously that Khan’s aides sold them in Dubai.

Moreover, seven wristwatches, six made by watchmaker Rolex, and the most expensive a “Master Graff limited edition” valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000), was also among the gifts.

A reference was forwarded by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf to the Election Commission asking it to probe the matter.

In October 2022, the electoral body also declared the former premier guilty of corrupt practices and filed a complaint in an Islamabad court.

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