- Khan’s legal team petitions apex court to annul IHC order.
- Three-member bench is headed by CJP Umar Ata Bandial
- CJP says Supreme Court will wait for IHC’s order.
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial Wednesday observed that the trial court judge announced the verdict against former prime minister Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case in haste.
The remarks from the top judge came during the Supreme Court (SC) hearing on a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Khan, challenging the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) verdict on the transfer of the Toshakhana case to another court.
On August 4, the IHC annulled the sessions court’s verdict on the maintainability of the case of corrupt practices related to the state gift repository against the PTI chief as a temporary relief to him, but rejected his request to transfer the matter to another court.
Later on August 5, Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Haris filed an application in the SC against the IHC’s decision, with a diary number attached to the petition.
The former premier was found guilty of corrupt practices in the Toshakhana case and was sentenced to three-year in prison.
The PTI chief’s plea was heard by a three-member apex court bench headed by CJP Bandial, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel.
As the hearing commenced, Khan’s lawyer Latif Khosa’s presented his arguments before the court.
The chief justice came down hard on the trial court verdict, saying the judge announced the order in haste.
Khosa had prayed to the top court that his client had filed three appeals against the high court’s order.
“Six members of the National Assembly sent a reference against the PTI chairman to the speaker seeking his disqualification,” he said. “The speaker then sent the reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under Section 137 of the Election Act.”
Advocate Khosa prayed to the court that his client had been accused of misdeclaration of his assets. On the query of Justice Naqvi, Khosa read Section 137 and sub-section 4 of the Election Act, 2017.
“Do the members of the assembly have the authority to send a reference against their fellow members?” Justice Naqvi inquired. “Under which law can assembly members send references against other parliamentarians?”
To this, Khosa replied that members of the assembly did not have the authority to send the reference, only the NA speaker does. He further told the apex court that the electoral body could only take action against an MNA within a fixed time of 120 days after the submission of financial statements.
“The present case is not whether a reference could have been sent against PTI chairman or not, Justice Mandokhel said. “You have challenged the decision of the Islamabad High Court.”
CJP Bandial also told lawyer Khosa that the issue of the case’s jurisdiction had been challenged.
“You yourself are saying that the case is pending in another court,” the CJP said.
At one point during the hearing, CJP Bandial remarked that the trial court judge decided the Toshakhana case in haste.
“How many days did the trial court give to the accused for the right of defence?” the CJP inquired.
The IHC had asked the court to decide the matter within seven days and the trial court decided it in a single day, the chief justice observed.
“Imran Khan still has forums available for the redressal of his grievances,” said ECP lawyer Amjad Pervaiz.
Justice Mandokhail said that it should be seen that justice was being done.
Justice Naqvi remarked the trial court violated the orders of the SC and the high court in the Toshakhana case.
The right to produce witnesses cannot be taken away from any accused, he added.
“You are a fair lawyer,” CJP Bandial said in his remarks to ECP’s counsel. “Sufficient time was not given to the accused to reply.”
The apex court bench further stated that according to the details, no one appeared before the court on August 5 to represent PTI.
“In hindsight, the trial court made a unilateral decision,” the SC said.
Furthermore, the SC ordered the high court to also hear the request for suspension of the sentence. Serious points have been raised before the court which needed to be reviewed, it added.
“It is expected that tomorrow the high court will decide on the petitions.”
The election commission’s lawyer requested to adjourn the hearing till Friday.
“I work till 9 pm, CJP Bandial replied and adjourned the hearing till 2pm tomorrow.
After hearing arguments from Khosa and ECP counsel Amjad Pervaiz, the CJP Bandial remarked, “We will not interfere in the Toshakhana case today and we will look at the IHC hearing tomorrow and resume the hearing.”
In his appeal, the PTI chairman requested the SC to overturn the high court’s order directing Khan to reappear in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar.
He had requested that the trial court be restrained from holding proceedings till a verdict on the new petition is announced.
The petition further argued that the trial judge had “improperly and hastily” declared the Toshakhana case arguable, and that the IHC committed a legal error by sending back the case to Judge Dilawar.
“How can the judge, who has declared a case maintainable, freely rehear it,” the petition questioned, declaring that IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had deprived the petitioner of his fundamental rights in the latest order.
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