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Friday March 01, 2024

IHC rejects Imran Khan's plea seeking withdrawal of appeal against ECP's Toshakhana verdict

Former PTI chief sought withdrawal of his plea challenging Toshakhana verdict on January 18, 2023

December 06, 2023
A sign board outside the Islamabad High Court. — Geo News/File
A sign board outside the Islamabad High Court. — Geo News/File

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday turned down former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan's request to withdraw his appeal against the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) verdict about his disqualification in the Toshakhana case.

Khan, on October 28 last year, had moved the IHC against the decision and later sought withdrawal of the appeal on January 18, 2023.

Khan sought withdrawal of the appeal at the IHC as the matter was pending in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq announced the court’s decision which was reserved on September 13 after hearing arguments of all the parties.

On October 21, 2022, the electoral watchdog, in a consensus verdict, had disqualified the former prime minister under Article 63(1)(p) and ruled that the PTI founder was no more a member of the National Assembly. He was disqualified for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.

The ECP had stated that Khan submitted a false affidavit and was found involved in corrupt practices under Article 63(1)(p). The decision was taken unanimously by the electoral authority’s five-member bench.

The deposed prime minister challenged his disqualification in the IHC, praying to the court to set aside the judgment as what he said the ECP had no jurisdiction over the matter.

In the meantime, a separate petition was filed in LHC against Khan's disqualification. The petition challenged the ECP’s relevant section under which the ex-PTI chief was disqualified.

Initially, the petitioner did not apprise the IHC about his second plea in the LHC over the same matter. Later, the PTI founder requested the IHC to allow him to withdraw his plea as he reportedly wanted the LHC to proceed with the case.

During proceedings, IHC Chief Justice Aamir Farooq expressed his annoyance over concealing the matter about the second petition in the LHC and remarked: “In principle, the case should proceed in the court where the appeal was filed first.”

Khan's counsel argued that a larger bench of the LHC was hearing the case.

After hearing the arguments from all sides, the IHC reserved its verdict on September 13, 2023. 

The reference

In August 2022, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf sent a reference to the ECP under Articles 62A, 63A, and 223, seeking former prime minister Khan's disqualification in the light of the Toshakhana scam.

The disqualification reference was filed by Ali Gohar Khan, PML-N’s Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha, and five others.

The 28-page reference identified 52 gift items of Toshakhana received by the former premier Khan, violating the law and rules, taken away at nominal prices and most of the gifts were sold in the market, including some precious watches.

The assessed value of the gifts has been put at Rs142,042,100. The gifts were received between August 2018 and December 2021.

According to Ranjha, Khan concealed information about the gift of watches by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in his statement of assets submitted in 2018-2019.

This withholding of information is tantamount to lying which, according to Ranjha, is a crime under Section 137.

He had said that Khan was no more Sadiq and Ameen and should be slapped with disqualification for life from contesting the election under Article 62(1)(f), Article 2, Article 3 of the Constitution.

Article 62(1)(f) is the same legal instrument that disqualified former PM Nawaz Sharif from contesting elections and led to his removal from power, Ranjha said.