ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday set aside the session court’s verdict declaring the Toshakhana reference filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against PTI Chairman, Imran Khan, maintainable for criminal proceedings.
Chief Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC ordered the session court to reevaluate the matter and decide it again after hearing the case anew. He also rejected the PTI chief’s appeal to transfer the case to another court and issued a notice for the next week on the appeal to restore the right of defense.
“The matter is remanded to the trial court for decision afresh,” stated the detailed court order, adding that the case was fixed for final arguments today.
“The petitioner shall ensure addressing of arguments positively on the issue when matter is fixed by court for final arguments. The trial court shall address the issues raised in the referred petitions while deciding the matter,” the order read.
The court further directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct an inquiry into certain alleged posts on the session judge’s Facebook account, involving everyone concerned in the matter, and furnish a report to the IHC deputy registrar within a fortnight.
The ECP had filed the reference against the PTI chief last month, and the session court had initially declared it maintainable. However, the decision was challenged in the IHC.
On Thursday, the IHC reserved its verdict on a set of petitions filed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan. These included an application against the maintainability of the complaint seeking criminal proceedings against him for hiding Toshakhana gifts, a petition seeking the transfer of the case to another trial court, and a third petition filed the same day seeking the right to defense in the case.
Charges were framed against Imran Khan on May 10, but Justice Farooq had stayed the proceeding and directed Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar to re-examine the matter in seven days, considering eight legal questions he framed to decide the maintainability of the Toshakhana reference.
The questions included whether the complaint was filed on behalf of the ECP by a duly authorized person, whether the ECP’s decision of Oct 21, 2022, was a valid authorization to any officer of ECP to file a complaint, and whether the question of authorization could be ratified subsequently during the course of proceedings.
However, during the re-examination, 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 ruled that the reference was maintainable, reviving the stalled proceedings and summoning witnesses for testimony.