Monday, 2 October, 2023

IHC reserves verdict on Imran’s plea challenging Toshakhana conviction

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday reserved its verdict on PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s plea seeking the suspension of a three-year jail term awarded to the ex-premier in the Toshakhana case.

On August 5, a trial court in Islamabad had convicted the PTI chief in the case filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that involved concealing details of state gifts and jailed him for three years.

The verdict meant he was disqualified from contesting general elections for five years. Imran Khan had subsequently filed an appeal in the high court against his conviction. He had also approached the Supreme Court (SC) against the IHC’s decision to remand the case back to the trial court judge who had convicted him.

Last week, however, the SC had acknowledged “procedural defects” in Imran’s conviction but had opted to wait for the IHC decision on Imran’s plea.

 The court’s observations had drawn the ire of the Pakistan Bar Council, which said there should be no “interference” in matters pending before the subordinate judiciary.

At the previous IHC hearing, the court had adjourned the case due to the absence of the ECP lawyer, Advocate Amjad Pervaiz. It had led Imran’s counsel, Advocate Latif Khosa, to express his dissatisfaction with the court, saying he would not appear at the next hearing.

Subsequently, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, who was presiding over the hearing and in whom the PTI chief has expressed a lack of confidence, had asserted he would decide on the matter today “even if no one appears”.

On Monday, a division bench comprising Justice Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri is presiding over the hearing while both parties’ counsels, Khosa and Pervaiz, are also present in the courtroom.

During his arguments, the ECP lawyer urged the IHC to issue a notice to the state to make it a respondent in the case as, he said, the law made it necessary.

When Pervaiz concluded his arguments, Khosa said he did not wish to present any and also said he did not have any objections to the ECP counsel’s plea to issue a notice to the state.

Subsequently, the court reserved its verdict on the case.

Meanwhile, while the hearing was under way, the Islamabad Police said it was “always ready to deal with any untoward incident during the hearing of important cases” at the IHC.

It requested the public to “cooperate with the policemen on duty and to identify themselves”.