Friday July 19, 2024

Imran Khan gets relief as indictment deferred again in Toshakhana case

Islamabad court grants Khan exemption from appearance with ECP's consent, charges to be framed on Feb 28

By Arfa Feroz Zake
February 21, 2023
An undated photo of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — Instagram/File
An undated photo of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — Instagram/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan got relief as a local court in the federal capital once again deferred his indictment in the Toshakhana reference on Tuesday.

This is the second time framing of charges against the former premier — who is facing a scandal surrounding the alleged Toshakhana corruption — was deferred.

Imran Khan had to be indicted for allegedly indulging in corrupt practices related to the state gift depository initially on February 7. However, the court granted him an exemption from appearance on medical grounds at the last hearing and deferred the matter till today.

The PTI chief has been skipping court proceedings in all cases he is facing as he is recuperating from wounds he sustained in a gun attack on November 3 during a rally last year.

Today's hearing

At the outset of the hearing today, Khan's lawyer Gohar Ali Khan and Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) lawyer Saad Hassan appeared in the court of additional sessions judge Zafar Iqbal.

The legal team of the former premier sought another exemption from personal appearance on medical grounds.

"If it stays like this, the trial will keep getting prolonged," the judge remarked.

Imran Khan’s counsel informed the court that some x-rays had to be conducted of the PTI chairman on February 28.

At this, Judge Zafar Iqbal remarked that exemption pleas are being filed since February 9 and that if this continued, the trial would get prolonged.

At this, the counsel said the problem was Imran Khan’s travel to Islamabad.

When the PTI chief’s lawyer filed a plea seeking exemption, ECP’s representative Saad Hasan objected to it, saying Imran Khan had appeared in the Lahore High Court a day ago.

To this, the judge said that the court can direct the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital to submit a medical report of Imran Khan’s health status and asked the counsel to show the medico-legal report to ascertain the nature of his injuries.

“The court has summoned Imran Khan in a personal capacity. He is being granted exemption at every hearing,” the judge noted.

Gohar Ali Khan then apprised the court that Imran Khan went to the LHC from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore and it took time due to security. “Appearance at the Islamabad katcheri is a bit difficult.”

Doctors have advised Imran Khan to rest, he said, adding that the case is of a non-serious nature.

“Imran Khan hasn't appeared due to doctors’ advice and security issues," the counsel said.

The court then directed the authorities to provide attested copies of the case record to the PTI chief’s counsel.

At that point, the ECP’s lawyer also dropped his objections to the exemption, asking Imran Khan to ensure his presence at the next hearing on February 28.

The reference

The reference had been filed by the ECP in November last year, praying the court to proceed against the PTI chief under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as prime minister.

The ECP had requested that the PTI chief be convicted for the offences mentioned under sections 167 (corrupt practice) and 173 (making or publishing a false statement or declaration) of the Elections Act 2017.

It had added that as per the record, the state gifts were purchased from the Toshakhana for Rs21.5 million on the basis of their assessed value, while they were valued at around Rs108 million.