The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday suspended PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s conviction and three-year sentence in the Toshakhana case. However, the court ordered the authority to keep him in police custody till August 30 as he has been facing multiple charges. It asked to produce him again on Wednesday.
A division bench comprising Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri reserved the verdict after hearing both parties’ counsels on Monday.
The bench later said that the reserved judgment would be announced at 11:00 AM on Tuesday. A trial court in Islamabad convicted and sentenced the 70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman to three years in prison on August 5.
The cricketer-turned-politician 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.
Defence team demands more time for arguments
Earlier on Monday, the IHC resumed hearing on Khan's plea challenging his conviction in the Toshakhana corruption case. It had adjourned the case on Friday after the lawyer representing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did not appear due to illness.
Khan’s lawyer Latif Khosa completed his argument 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.
Separately, a three-member Supreme Court panel led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial heard petitions against the Toshakhana case on Monday. The apex court bench has fixed the hearing of the Toshakhana case on Tuesday, according to Khan's party.
The party said that the top court would hear the case after the announcement of the verdict by the Islamabad High Court.
SC observed “shortcomings” in the judgment of the session court
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, after hearing various petitions against the Toshakhana case, observed that there were “shortcomings” in the judgment of the sessions court.
The panel observed that the verdict was given in haste and without giving the right of defence to the accused. “Prima facie, there are shortcomings in the trial court verdict,” the chief justice said.
The apex court had also stated it would wait for the IHC hearing before giving its judgment. It resumed the hearing Thursday but adjourned it without fixing any date after it was told that the IHC was holding a hearing.
What is the Toshakhana case?
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 Toshakhana - 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.
(With inputs from agency)