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Islamabad trial court grants Imran one-day exemption from appearing in Toshakhana case

ISLAMABAD, JUL 22: An Islamabad trial court on Saturday granted former prime minister Imran Khan a one-day exemption from appearing in the Toshakhana case.

The Toshakhana proceedings pertain to a criminal complaint filed against the PTI chairman by the Election of Commission (ECP) over concealing details of state gifts.

Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Hum­­ayun Dilawar heard the case today while Barrister Gohar Ali appeared as Imran’s counsel and Advocate Amjad Pervaiz represented the ECP.

During the hearing, when one of Imran’s lawyers objected to the daily hearings of the case, the judge expressed his displeasure over the PTI chief’s frequent no-shows.

However, the judge still accepted the counsel’s plea to grant Imran a one-day exemption, but ordered that the PTI chief’s attendance must be ensured on Monday (July 24).

A day ago as well, Imran’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed appeared trying to drag on the case with the judge struggling to conclude it in a few days. The cross-examination of the two prosecution witnesses had been adjourned till Monday as well.

The hearing
At the outset of the hearing, Imran’s counsel filed a request seeking an exemption for his client from attending today’s hearing and its adjournment till Monday (July 24).

At this, the ECP lawyer raised an objection, arguing that “no solid reasons” had been mentioned in the exemption plea.

Contending that the “suspect should be present when a trial is under way”, Advocate Pervaiz requested the court to issue directives to ensure Imran’s appearance in court.

Here, the judge asked the PTI lawyer, “Will the suspect appear in court on Monday?” To this, Barrister Ali answered that Imran would be appearing in the Supreme Court on Monday for a case filed against him in Quetta.

ADSJ Dilawal then responded that the former premier could appear in this court after appearing in the apex court.

At this, lawyer Niazullah Niazi objected why the case was being heard on a daily basis.

The judge replied, “There is nothing mentioned in the case file other than the exemption plea. The plea, too, is only till the extent of the exemption today.

“You are objecting to the hearings being conducted on a daily basis. Your exemption request was always accepted even though the suspect did not appear in the court even once,” the judge observed.

The court then accepted Imran’s plea and directed his counsel to ensure that he appeared in the case after appearing in the Supreme Court on Monday.

Subsequently, the court adjourned the hearing.

Toshakhana case
The case, filed by ruling party lawmakers, is based on a criminal complaint filed by the ECP.

The case alleges that Imran had “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana — a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept — during his time as the prime minister and proceeds from their reported sales.

According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

Imran has faced a number of legal issues over his retention of gifts. The issue also led to his disqualification by the ECP.

On Oct 21, 2022, the ECP concluded that the former premier had indeed made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts.

The watchdog’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

Subsequently, the ECP had approached the Islamabad sessions court with a copy of the complaint, seeking proceedings against Imran under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as the prime minister.

On May 10, Imran had been indicted in the case, rejecting his petition to declare the Toshkhana case inadmissible. However, on July 4, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had overturned the said ruling.

On July 8, an Islamabad district and sessions court had declared the Toshakhana case against Imran to be maintainable. Subsequently, the former premier challenged the sessions court ’s verdict in the IHC.

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