IHC reserves verdict on Imran Khan’s petitions pertaining to Toshakhana case
By News Desk
August 3, 2023 08:54 PM
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday reserved its verdict on a set of petitions filed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan against the Toshakhana trial, reported 24NewsHd TV channel.
The pleas in question included the ex-premier’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 today 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 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, keeping in view eight legal questions he framed to decide the maintainability of the Toshakhana reference.
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.
However, when the sessions judge re-examined the matter, Imran’s counsel Khawaja Haris did not appear before the court to argue the case in three consecutive hearings. Finally, on July 9, ADSJ Dilawar while ruling that the reference was maintainable, revived the stalled proceedings and summoned the witnesses for testimony.
Yesterday, Judge Dilawar ruled that Imran had failed to prove the relevance of his witnesses in court and asked the defence counsel to conclude the arguments, or else the court would reserve an order on the complaint.
During the hearing today, 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 tomorrow (Friday).
At the outset of the hearing, Imran’s counsel Haris told the court that his client had recorded his statement in the trial court. He recalled that his client had submitted a request yesterday seeking more time to present the witnesses and urged the IHC to halt trial court proceedings until a decision was taken on the current petition.
The lawyer decried that the case was being heard in “haste” and said that it showed “prejudice” in the judiciary.
To this, the IHC CJ asked, “Are you saying that a judge who is hearing the case on a daily basis is biased?”
Haris replied that he wanted to present his arguments regarding the matter in court and requested the IHC to halt trial court proceedings until a decision was taken on petitions being heard by the high court.
He added that his client was looking at the IHC for justice, claiming that the Toshakhana case had now become a constitutional matter.
Talking about Judge Dilawar, the counsel stated that the former had passed “strange” remarks about the PTI lawyers.
For his part, PTI counsel Haris contended that the ECP’s complaint against Imran was not filed in a legally correct manner. It should not have been directly sent to the sessions court but should have first gone to the magistrate, he said.
“What does the magistrate do initially? What is the logic in this?” the IHC CJ asked, to which the lawyer replied that a magistrate had to scrutinise the documents.
Meanwhile, the ECP counsel, in his arguments, brought up the PTI’s allegations against Judge Dilawar. The PTI’s legal team had previously submitted screenshots of three Facebook posts and accused the judge of being biased.
Referring to the matter, Pervaiz said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had submitted a report on the allegations, which stated that the contentious Facebook posts had not been published from the trial court judge’s account.
“Should contempt of court proceedings not be initiated [against the PTI chief] on the basis of FIA report?” he asked. “Should a criminal case not be filed against Imran Khan? Should justice not be dispensed to the judge? Why didn’t they conduct a forensic analysis of the Facebook posts before levelling these allegations?”
Here, the court took a break in the proceedings and said they would resume at 3pm. Justice Farooq also directed the lawyers to inform the trial court that the matter was under discussion in the high court.
When the IHC hearing resumed a little after 4pm, PTI counsel Haris resumed his arguments and recalled that the trial court had rejected his client’s list of witnesses calling them “irrelevant”.
“The first three witnesses were tax consultants, but the last witness was PTI’s central information secretary,” he said, insisting that these witnesses were indeed relevant to the case.
Subsequently, the court reserved its verdict on all the petitions filed by Imran.