ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will Monday (today) resume hearing of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan’s petition challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to disqualify him in the Toshakhana (gift depository) case.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq will conduct hearing of the petition moved by the former prime minister through his lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar challenging the ECP’s decision to disqualify him. In his petition, he cited the Secretary ECP, Speaker National Assembly and others as respondents.

Previously, the IHC bench had observed that Imran was only disqualified to the extent of the seat he was notified and he had not been barred from contesting in future elections following the ECP verdict in the Toshakhana reference against him. The court added that the former premier would not face any problems to contest in the NA-45 (Kurram-I) by-election scheduled to be held on Oct 30. Justice Athar further remarked that a proceeding of ECP was conducted under the constitution and Imran Khan could contest the elections as there was no restriction on him.

The petitioner stated in the petition that he filed his statement of assets and liabilities for 2018, 2019 till 2021 in December 2018, 2019 till December 2021 and all assets or proceeds of sale thereof in shape of money as the case had been, as were available on 30th June of each year had always been declared by the petitioner before the ECP.

The PTI Chairman contended that if ECP had any objection to any of the statement of assets and liabilities filed by the petitioner or wanted any clarifications or additional details, under section 137 (4) ibid ECP could do so in 120 days and the ECP never raised any query or objection etc as required by Section 137(4) within 120 days. He further contended that however the Speaker National Assembly without hearing the petitioner, and (without) any evidence or document and contrary to the Constitution and the law, in a mechanical manner, on 05-08-2022, filed a reference containing the following allegations: (i) the Petitioner had not paid for the gifts obtained from the Toshakhana for 2018-2019; (ii) Petitioner had concealed the Toshakhana gifts received in year 2018-2019 in the Statement of Assets and Liabilities filed u/s 137 ibid and (iii) accordingly the Petitioner is disqualified under Article 62(1) f of the Constitution and ECP should disqualify him accordingly. Imran adopted that all allegations or questions were and continue to be vehemently false and baseless and the burden to prove any concealment of course was on the movers of the reference and speaker. However as above stated, the speaker acted unlawfully. 

Therefore, the petitioner filed his reply in detail on 06-09-2022 before the CP which may be read an integral part of this petition.

Imran argued that the impugned order of the ECP is arbitrary, capricious, whimsical, based on no evidence, contrary to record and ultra vires the jurisdiction of the ECP; hence illegal and null and void.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to declare, find and hold that the impugned order dated 21-10-2022 is against the settled principles of law on Article 63 of the Constitution, misconceived and set it aside.

He requested the court to declare find and hold that the ECP could not have exercised the jurisdiction to decide any questions of ‘corrupt practice or disqualification’ under Section137 read with Section 232 of the Election Act and further read with Rule137 of Election Rules, 2017.

Khan also requested the court to declare that the reference itself is incompetent, illegal, unlawful and without lawful authority, mala-fide and devoid of force and in the circumstance of the instant case declare it as null and void in the interest of justice.

In the meanwhile, he prayed that this court may kindly be pleased to suspend the operation of the impugned order of the ECP and restrain further proceeding by ECP or its behest till final disposal of the titled petition.