SC rejects Imran plea to stay gifts case proceeding

ISLAMABAD   -  The Supreme Court of Pakistan Wednesday declined PTI chief Imran Khan’s plea to stay the criminal proceeding against him in Toshakhana case before the District and Sessions Court, Islamabad.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Musarrat Hilali conducted hearing of Khan appeal to set aside the Islamabad High Court (IHC) order remanding the case to the District and Sessions Court, Islamabad, to decide it within seven days.

Before the start of the proceedings, Justice Afridi expressed his annoyance over the uproar outside the courtroom due to PTI supporters. The bench members said that they could not hear the case in this situation, and directed the SC staff and the counsels of both sides to try to maintain calm.

The judges emphasized the importance of respecting the court and left the courtroom, but returned when the situation normalized.

As the proceeding resumed, Kh Haris, representing Imran Khan, informed the bench that two petitions were already pending with the IHC, one concerning the trial court’s jurisdiction and the other seeking the transfer of Imran’s trial from the court of Additional District Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Oct 21, 2022, had disqualified Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference under Article 63(1) (p) of the Constitution for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”. It also filed complaint against Imran Khan in Toshakhana gifts.

In May, this year, ADSJ Hamayun Dilawar had rejected Imran Khan’s challenge to the maintainability of the Toshakhana reference and indicted him in the case. The trial court’s decision was challenged before the IHC, which remanded the case back to the former on July 4 to re-examine the matter in seven days in the light of legal questions to decide maintainability of the reference.

The trial court had then announced starting criminal proceedings, against the former prime minister in the Toshakhana case on July 12 after rejecting his plea against the maintainability of the ECP’s complaint.

The PTI chief challenged the IHC order before the apex court requesting to set aside the IHC directive. He also sought a stay on the proceedings before ADSJ Dilawar until his appeal was decided. ECP lawyer Amjad Pervez stated that the IHC order in the case had already been implemented and a hearing on a petition against the trial court order was scheduled for tomorrow.

Justice Afridi pointed out that since the two pleas were currently pending before the IHC, issuing directives to the trial court would not be appropriate. The court expressed hope that the IHC would hear all identical petitions filed by the PTI chief alongside this case.

The apex court then rejected the PTI counsel’s plea to halt criminal proceedings in the case, referred the case back to the IHC and disposed of the petition. According to PTI appeal, the IHC was not legally justified in remanding the same questions of law that formed the basis of the impugned order for re-determination by the same trial judge who had already given his judgement.

Imran added that the IHC set aside the petitioner’s plea by remanding the matter back to the trial court for re-decision despite the fact that the petitioner had also applied for transfer of the complaint from the trial judge to any other court.

The petitioner contended the IHC had committed a jurisdiction error in remanding the case to the same trial judge against whom an application had been filed for transfer of the case.

Meanwhile, A trial court on Wednesday granted one-time exemption from appearance to PTI’s chairman Imran Khan in toshakhana criminal case and summoned him again in personal capacity for recording the statement on next hearing.

Additional District and Session Judge Hamayun Dilawar heard the criminal case against former prime minister Imran Khan lodged by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Imran Khan’s lawyer Barrister Gohar Ali Khan requested the court to grant one-time exemption from attendance to the former prime minister and adjourned hearing for today as senior counsel Khawaja Haris was busy in Supreme Court. He requested the court to adjourn the case till Monday.

The ECP’s lawyer Saad Hassan opposed the request of the defence side and informed the judge that the top court had rejected the plea of Imran Khan seeking stay against the proceeding in toshakhana case. He further said that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had also not issued any stay order and prayed the court to proceed the trial.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said that it was a matter of only one day and requested the court to adjourn case after the holidays of Muharram so that chairman PTI could receive the questionnaire from the court himself. The judge said that then the court summons the accused till 2:00pm noon.

After a recession, ECP’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz argued that the accused should know that what the case was against him as it would be heard at various forums. During hearing, the court also prepared a questionnaire comprising 35 questions with regard to the statement of Imran Khan under Section-342 CRPC and it was shared with the defence lawyer.

The asked the lawyer to ensure the attendance of Imran Khan tomorrow otherwise arrest warrants would be issued against him. The further hearing of the case was then adjourned. Also, A civil court here on Wednesday granted one-time exemption from appearance to PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan and his wife, and sought arguments in their acquittal pleas from a case pertaining their alleged illegitimate marriage.

Civil Judge Qudratullah heard the case against the marriage of former prime minister Imran Khan.

The PTI chairman’s lawyer Sher Afzal Murawat submitted the request seeking one-time exemption from attendance to Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi and said that his client had to appear before the accountability court. The court accepted the request and sought arguments against their acquittal pleas on July 31.

Meanwhile, an Accountability Court (AC) here on Wednesday extended the interim bails of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi till July 31, in Al-Qadir Trust case, a scam worth 190 million pounds.

AC-I Judge Muhammad Bashir heard the case wherein former prime minister Imran Khan appeared before the court.

At the outset of hearing, Barrister Salman Safdar Advocate informed the court that senior lawyer Khawaja Haris could not attend the day’s proceeding due to his engagements in apex court. Barrister Hohar Ali Khan also submitted a request seeking one-time exemption from attendance to Bushra Bibi.

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