Toshakhana case: ‘What trial court did was wrong,’ observes IHC CJ

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Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court Justice Aamer Farooq. — IHC website
Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court Justice Aamer Farooq. — IHC website
  • Doctors suggested bed rest for ECP counsel, says assistant.
  • “We can do what trial court did, but we will not,” says Justice Farooq.
  • Even if no one comes, we will announce decision: IHC top judge.

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq on Friday observed that the trial court, which convicted former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in Toshakahna case, “did wrong”. 

The judge’s remarks came during the hearing of the PTI chief’s appeal challenging the Toshakhana verdict, which sentenced him to three-year in prison and imposed a fine of Rs100,000 earlier this month.

Two-member IHC bench comprising CJ Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri heard the plea seeking suspension of Khan’s conviction by the trial court’s Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar.

During the hearing today, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) legal counsel Amjad Parvez did not appear before the bench, citing ill health.

His assistant advocate asked the bench for an adjournment saying: “For the last eight months, we never sought adjournment.”

He said that doctors had suggested Parvez bed rest.

At this, the IHC chief justice said: “The request for suspension of sentence is now at a critical stage.” He added that arguments would have been completed in fifteen to twenty minutes.

He further said: “We can also do what the trial court did, but we will not.”

The PTI has criticised the trial court’s verdicy saying that the decision was announced in haste in the absence of the party chief and his lawyer. 

The court then adjourned the hearing till Monday.

“We adjourn the case till Monday, and even if no one comes, we will annouce our decision,” Justice Farooq said, adding that what the trial court had done was wrong.

At this, the PTI counsel Latif Khosa remarked: “One person has been in jail for twenty days. Will [you] keep the PTI chairman in jail for another three days?

“We will not appear in court, do what you have to do.”

He requested the bench to suspend the sentence today.

“If you are satisfied with their arguments on Monday, then send them back to jail,” he requested.

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 PTI chief’s arrest, it is the third petition the party had filed.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court (SC) Wednesday heard a petition challenging IHC’s decision to remand the case back to the trial court judge who had convicted him, and observed that the trial court had hastened Toshakhana’s 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.

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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