SC rejects Imran’s plea against Toshakhana trial

ISLAMABAD  -  The Supreme Court on Friday dis­missed former premier Imran Khan’s plea against trial proceed­ings pertaining to the Toshakhana criminal complaint after he with­drew the petition. On Wednesday, the apex court had turned down Im­ran’s request to stay the trial in the Toshakhana case being heard at an Islamabad sessions court. However, it had also granted relief to the PTI chief by postponing further proceed­ings till yesterday so that he could approach the court again in case any adverse order was passed by the Is­lamabad High Court (IHC).

Meanwhile, IHC on Thursday had reserved its verdict on a set of pe­titions filed by Imran against the Toshakhana trial, and is expected to issue the said verdict on Friday.

A three-member SC bench, led by Justice Yahya Afridi and comprising Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, was set to hear Imran’s plea yesterday. Howev­er, the bench was reconstituted earli­er with Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi re­placing Justice Naqvi.

During the hearing, Advocate Kha­waja Haris appeared as Imran’s counsel while Advocate Amjad Per­vaiz appeared as the counsel for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). At the outset of the hearing, the apex court observed that the trial court could not reserve its verdict on the Toshakha­na case until the IHC gave its verdict. Justice Afri­di summoned the ECP lawyer to the rostrum, upon which Imran’s lawyer informed the court that the IHC had reserved its verdict yesterday on his cli­ent’s pleas. The judge then asked, “Has the high court given a stay order?” to which Advocate Haris answered in the negative. “The trial court can­not make a decision until a decision is made on the plea to transfer the case,” Justice Afridi not­ed. At this, the ECP lawyer said Section 528 (ses­sions judge may withdraw cases from assistant sessions judge) of the Code of Criminal Procedure was “clear on this matter”. At one point during the hearing, Justice Afridi asked Advocate Haris about the current status of the pleas pending in the IHC, to which he responded that the IHC heard four pleas yesterday and that requests were also made during the arguments. “We have requested the high court that the case be transferred to any oth­er judge,” the PTI chief’s lawyer said.

He further informed the apex court of the IHC’s dismissal of Imran’s witnesses in the Toshskhana trial. Justice Afridi asked the lawyer, “Has the high court given you any interim relief?” to which the latter replied that the IHC “has not issued the in­terim order” yet. Advocate Haris further apprised the Supreme Court that the IHC would possibly is­sue its verdict today on his pleas. At this point, Jus­tice Afridi noted: “If both the respondents agree on the law, then we may write in the order”.

However, the ECP lawyer asked the court not to include his consent in the written order, add­ing that Imran’s lawyer “interprets the order in his own way”. Justice Afridi said that the matter had “now gone beyond the law and had come to the respondents’ consent”. However, Advocate Pervaiz lamented that Advocate Haris “misinterprets if I express consent”. While dismissing the plea, the apex court observed that the application seeking the transfer of the case to another court was under way in the IHC. The court expressed the hope that the trial and the IHC will make decisions as per the law. The Supreme Court observed that the said de­cision would not affect other pleas filed by Imran.