ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday set aside the trial court’s verdict over maintainability of Toshakhana case against PTI chief Imran Khan and remanded the matter to trial court to decide it afresh. However, the bench turned down Imran’s appeal to transfer the case to another court and issued a notice for next week on a petition to restore his right of defence in the Toshakhana trial.
A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of Imran’s petitions challenging admissibility of the Toshakhana case, transfer of case to another judge and challenging the jurisdiction of the trial court. Justice Aamer said in his written order that the matter is remanded to the trial court for decision afresh. He added, “This Court was informed that the matter is pending for final arguments tomorrow i.e. 04.08.2023, the petitioner shall ensure addressing of arguments positively on the issue when the matter is fixed by Court for final arguments. The Trial Court shall address the issues raised in the referred petitions while deciding the matter,” said the judge.
He noted, “Before parting, as observed that Federal Investigation Agency has rendered its report prima facie that the alleged posts on the Facebook account of Hamayoon Dilawar, Additional Sessions Judge (West), Islamabad Presiding Officer of Trial Court are not authentic. FIA is directed to inquire in the matter in detail and involve everyone concerned and furnish a report to Deputy Registrar (Judicial) of this Court within a fortnight.”
The bench stated that during the course of proceedings a transfer application under Section 526 Cr.P.C. was filed on the basis of bias of the Judge presiding the trial court; primarily, on the ground that the charge was framed against the petitioner in haste and improper fashion and also the contentions of the petitioner in various applications have not been decided correctly. Later, in the proceedings an application was filed before the Trial Court for recusal in the matter on the basis of some alleged posts on the Facebook account of the Presiding Officer which showed his biasness.
Kh. Haris Ahmed Advocate representing Imran submitted that the FIA report on the issue of fake posts on Facebook is a unilateral act and cannot form basis for any further action.
The IHC bench pointed out that the impugned order of the trial court in Criminal Revision No.108/ 2023 shows that a number of opportunities were provided to the petitioner to address arguments but adjournments were sought, hence the matter was decided in the absence of learned counsel for the petitioner so “the learned counsel for the petitioner is correct in saying that he has been condemned unheard and it would be only appropriate to remand the matter back to the Trial Court for decision afresh.”
However, the IHC Chief Justice added, “It is not essential that the matter be sent to a different Presiding Officer or the Court for the reasons as mentioned in the judgments mentioned here in above. “It is emphasized that remitting the matter to different Presiding Officer can be regarded as matter of propriety and not principle of law,” maintained the judge. The IHC order also mentioned that this court on 25.07.2023 had referred the matter to FIA to probe into the issue of posts on Facebook account of the Additional Sessions Judge (West), Islamabad as he denied that the said posts were even made by him. It further said that the FIA filed its report pursuant to order of this court and according to it the authenticity of screenshots cannot be determined due to non-availability of URL
/link and the profile of the account of the judge.