Islamabad High Court reserves judgement on Imran Khan's plea challenging conviction in Toshakhana case

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Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court on Monday reserved its verdict on former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s plea seeking the suspension of his three-year jail term in the Toshakhana corruption case.

A trial court had convicted and sentenced the 70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman to three years in prison on August 5 in the case.

Khan was sentenced on charges of unlawfully selling state gifts acquired by him and his family during his 2018-2022 tenure. He has also been barred from politics for five years, preventing him from contesting an upcoming election.

A division bench comprising Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri reserved the verdict on Monday after hearing both parties’ counsels.

The bench had adjourned the hearing on Friday after the lawyer representing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Amjad Pervez failed to appear due to illness.

Khan's lawyer Latif Khosa completed his argument against the conviction on Thursday, asserting that the verdict was given in haste and full of shortcomings.

He urged the court to set aside the sentence but the defence team demanded more time to complete its arguments.

Many believe that a favourable ruling for Khan may come after the Supreme Court highlighted faults in the judgment convicting Khan.

Last week, the Supreme Court acknowledged “procedural defects” in Khan's conviction but opted to wait for the IHC decision on the former prime minister's plea, the report said.

The case was launched last year in October on the complaint of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which had earlier disqualified Khan in the same case.

After a hearing spanning over months, Judge Humayun Dilawar of the Islamabad-based sessions court on August 5 awarded a three-year sentence to Khan for hiding the proceeds he got from the sale of state gifts.

Khan within days challenged the conviction in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), seeking to suspend his sentence and overturn the judgment.

The court held the initial hearing on August 22 but adjourned the cases till August 24 after ECP lawyer Pervez failed to turn up. Khan's counsel Advocate Khosa had expressed his dissatisfaction with the court, saying he would not appear at the next hearing.

Subsequently, IHC Chief Justice 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 on Monday “even if no one appears”, it said.

Separately, a three-member Supreme Court panel led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail was also hearing petitions against the Toshakhana case.

The Supreme Court held a brief hearing on Thursday and adjourned the case with remarks that it would wait for the outcome of the hearing in the IHC.

The Toshakhana case was filed by ruling party lawmakers in 2022 in the ECP, alleging that Khan concealed the proceeds from the sale of state gifts.

The ECP first disqualified Khan and then filed a case of criminal proceedings in a sessions court which convicted him and subsequently, Khan was sent to jail.

Khan is currently in Attock Jail following his arrest from his Lahore home The case alleges that Khan had “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana - a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept - during his time as the prime minister from 2018 to 2022 and proceeds from their reported sales.

As per Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

According to reports, Khan received 58 gifts worth more than Rs 140 million from world leaders during his three-and-a-half-year stint and retained all of them either by paying a negligible amount or even without any payment.