ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan, led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, deferred the proceedings on Thursday regarding the appeal filed by Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), contesting the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling in the Toshakhana case. The adjournment was made until the IHC delivers its judgment on the plea seeking the suspension of Khan’s sentence related to the case.
In a session concurrently held with the IHC’s consideration of the Toshakhana verdict against the former Prime Minister, the three-member bench under Chief Justice Bandial commended the efforts of IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, emphasizing the desirability of a verdict from the high court.
Chief Justice Bandial inquired about the presence of representatives from the attorney general’s office, seeking information regarding the conditions of Imran Khan’s detention subsequent to his removal from the prime minister’s office through a vote of no-confidence in April of the prior year. Instructions were issued to furnish a report detailing the facilities provided to Khan during his incarceration.
Sardar Latif Khosa, Khan’s legal representative, conveyed to the court that their arguments had been presented before the IHC.
Chief Justice Bandial acknowledged the completion of argumentation, stating, “Your objection was that you were not being heard, now all your arguments have been heard.”
Chief Justice Bandial expressed optimism in the high court’s ability to issue a decision based on the presented points. Moving on, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail inquired about the outcome of the IHC hearing, to which Khosa replied that he was not inclined to offer political commentary.
Reflecting on the legal process, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court noted the sequential nature of decisions, starting with the high court’s determination and subsequently reaching the apex court. In a reminder to Khan’s legal team, Justice Mandokhail urged them to refrain from criticizing the judges of the Islamabad High Court.
In a previous session, the Supreme Court, considering a petition contesting the IHC’s directive to return the case to the trial court judge who had issued the initial conviction, recognized procedural irregularities in Khan’s conviction. However, the court opted to await the IHC’s ruling on Khan’s petition for the suspension of his three-year sentence.
The IHC resumed its hearing on the petition the following day, deferring further proceedings until the subsequent day at 11:30 pm.
The two-member IHC bench, composed of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Tariq Memhmood Jahangiri, presided over the hearing on Thursday regarding the PTI chief’s plea challenging the Toshakhana verdict.
Earlier on August 5, the former Prime Minister, presently detained in Attock jail, received a guilty verdict for corrupt practices linked to the misdeclaration of state gifts. The federal capital’s trial court had sentenced Khan to a three-year imprisonment, potentially barring him from participating in upcoming elections this year.
In response, PTI lodged an appeal in the IHC, contesting the trial court’s decision and requesting the court to invalidate the judgment. The IHC plea sought the suspension of Khan’s conviction rendered by Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar.
The petition urged, “It is most respectfully prayed that the Hon’ble Court may graciously be pleased to set aside the impugned judgment dated 05.08.2023, and declare the conviction and sentence imposed upon the Appellant to be illegal and without lawful authority and to acquit the Appellant of the charges framed against him.”
Apart from the prison sentence, ADSJ had imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on Khan following his conviction for graft in the Toshakhana case.
Notably, this marked the third petition filed by PTI subsequent to Khan’s arrest. In a parallel development, PTI declared its intention to approach the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) regarding the conduct of IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, citing the failure to suspend Khan’s sentence.
The Toshakhana case pertains to regulations governing the handling of gifts received by government officials. Gifts of low value could be retained by officials, while extravagant items required a significantly reduced fee payment to the government. The case came under scrutiny amid allegations that Khan acquired gifts received during his premiership at undervalued rates and subsequently profited by selling them at substantial margins.
The former cricketer-turned-politician faced accusations of misusing his tenure from 2018 to 2022 to engage in such transactions. The total worth of these gifts, according to officials, surpassed Rs140 million ($635,000) and encompassed items like watches, some of which were purportedly sold in Dubai by Khan’s associates. The controversy led to a reference by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf to the Election Commission for investigation.
In October 2022, the Election Commission declared Khan guilty of corrupt practices, prompting legal action in an Islamabad court.