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Wednesday July 24, 2024

LHC seeks Toshakhana record from 1947 to 2001

Govt had challenged LHC's single bench order to make records of state gift depository from 1990-2001

By Numan Wahab
April 11, 2023
The Lahore High Court. — Website/File
The Lahore High Court. — Website/File

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday directed the government to submit the record of Toshakhana from 1947 to 2001 in a week after the government challenged a single bench’s order to release the Toshakhana record from 1990 to 2001.

The court issued the order while hearing a government intra-court appeal challenging the LHC single bench order to release the state gift depository’s record from 1990 to 2001. The case was heard by a two-member bench comprising Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan and Justice Raza Qureshi. As the hearing commenced, the bench asked the government representatives about the grounds for the government plea challenging the earlier court order. Which, the state counsel argued that the court had ordered publicizing the names of individuals who gave the gifts after which the government itself released the Toshakhana record from 2002 and onwards. However, the names of those who gave the gifts weren’t made public to avoid destroying foreign relations, the state counsel said, adding that the government had uploaded all details on the official website but wanted relief to the extent of revealing the names.

At this, Justice Qureshi asked whether those people were declaring what they had been gifted or not. “We are also bound to declare it if anyone gives us a gift,” Justice Bilal remarked. At this, the additional attorney general maintained that if anyone was representing the state, he was supposed to declare the gift. He said the government wasn’t trying to hide the record, but the record before 2002 was not computerised and verified. Later, the court sought records from 1947 to 2001 while issuing a notice to the petitioner of the initial case, seeking the Toshakhana record, till next Monday.

As per the recent petition, the government has challenged the Lahore High Court decision regarding the disclosure of sources of providers of gifts from 1990 till 2023 and making public the Toshakhana record from 1990 to 2001, requesting that the decision be set aside to this extent. The government, through the Cabinet Division secretary, challenged the LHC single bench’s decision handed down by Justice Asim Hafeez on March 22. The court in its March judgement had directed the government to disclose the sources and identities of the providers of gifts from 1990 till March 13, 2023. Within seven days of the receipt of a certified copy of this order, he directed that the record of Toshakhana from 1990 to 2001 be made public. However, the government challenged the verdict.