Islamabad High Court Delays Imran Khan’s Plea Against Toshakhana Verdict

- Politics - August 24, 2023

Islamabad High Court Delays Imran Khan’s Plea Against Toshakhana Verdict

In a recent development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has rescheduled the hearing regarding Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s legal challenge against his conviction in the Toshakhana case. The hearing, originally set for Tuesday, has been adjourned until Friday at 11:30 AM to allow for arguments from both the defense and the prosecution.

Following a sessions court’s verdict that found the former Prime Minister guilty of corrupt practices due to the misdeclaration of state gifts on August 5, PTI launched an appeal against Khan’s conviction and the subsequent sentence.

The high court had initially adjourned the hearing until Thursday, rejecting the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) request for an extended two-week period to gather records.

The IHC resumed proceedings today, with Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri presiding. During the opening of the session, Advocate Latif Khosa, representing the petitioner, announced that he would now serve as the legal counsel for the PTI chairman.

Notably, Haris, a member of Khan’s legal team, is reported to have left the representation.

Khosa presented arguments to the court, urging the suspension of Khan’s conviction on three grounds. He argued that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to handle the Toshakhana case and questioned the authority of the sessions court to hear the ECP’s appeal.

Khosa pointed out that the ECP could have resolved the jurisdictional matter before initiating the proceedings and criticized the election body’s failure to seek permission before filing the complaint.

ECP lawyer Amjad Parvez countered by asserting that the permission to file the complaint was properly documented. However, Khosa contended that the authorization had been granted by the election commission secretary, which he deemed illegitimate.

Khosa emphasized procedural flaws in the trial court’s decision and highlighted the violation of Khan’s constitutional rights, particularly the denial of the opportunity to present witnesses in his defense.

The hearing was adjourned for the day, with the ECP’s counsel requesting a three-hour slot for presenting their arguments during the next session.

The PTI’s plea challenges the trial court’s decision and requests the IHC to suspend Khan’s conviction, as well as declare the imposed sentence illegal and void. Alongside the incarceration, the additional district and sessions judge levied a fine of Rs100,000 after finding Khan guilty of graft in the Toshakhana case.

This legal action by PTI is one of several petitions the party has filed in relation to Khan’s conviction. One of the petitions is also lodged in the Supreme Court, contesting the IHC’s decision to remand the case to the trial court judge who issued the conviction.

The Supreme Court acknowledged the procedural shortcomings in Khan’s conviction but decided to await the IHC’s ruling on the plea for suspending the three-year sentence. Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial stated that while defects were evident, the court would refrain from intervention until the IHC had reached a decision.

The Toshakhana case revolves around rules governing the handling of state gifts. Allegations surfaced that Khan had acquired gifts received during his tenure as Prime Minister at undervalued rates and subsequently profited by selling them in the open market.

These gifts, including valuable watches from a royal family, were allegedly sold by Khan’s aides in Dubai. Notably, a “Master Graff limited edition” watch worth 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000) was among the items.

The Election Commission initiated an investigation in response to these claims and, in October 2022, declared Khan guilty of corrupt practices, leading to a complaint filed in an Islamabad court.