Wednesday November 29, 2023

Toshakhana reference: ECP rejects PTI plea Imran can’t be summoned

August 19, 2022
Board outside Election Commission of Pakistan building. —file
Board outside Election Commission of Pakistan building. —file

ISLAMABAD: Hearing the disqualification reference involving the alleged sale of Toshakhana gifts by the former prime minister Imran Khan, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Thursday rejected the PTI’s plea that Imran was no longer a lawmaker.

A five-member bench of the Commission, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, heard the reference. PTI’s lawyer Barrister Gohar Ali Khan insisted that the Commission could not issue notice to Imran, as he was no more a member of the legislature.

The bench directed the petitioners in the disqualification reference against Imran to provide copies of the reference and other relevant documents to the PTI lawyer before adjourning the hearing till next week.

Earlier, the counsel sought an adjournment saying the main counsel Barrister Ali Zafar was unable to attend due to other engagements. He recalled that the members of the National Assembly belonging to the PTI had resigned en masse before Shehbaz Sharif was elected as prime minister. To this, the CEC maintained that Imran Khan continued to be an MNA in the eyes of the law.

He explained that the National Assembly Secretariat was yet to accept Imran’s resignation and accordingly intimate the Election Commission. The chief election commissioner contended that constitutional matters should not be given a twist to make them suitable to someone. He emphasized that a member of the assembly could not be de-notified until the NA speaker accepted his resignation and dispatched it to the ECP.

He remarked, “Show us, which resignation did the deputy speaker send to us”. This he said while referring to en masse resignations of PTI MNAs submitted to the former NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri. The chief election commissioner told the lawyer that the resignations which were sent to the ECP were duly processed and MNAs were also de-notified.

Later, talking to reporters, Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha, a PML-N lawmaker and one of the petitioners, who had filed the reference against Imran Khan for concealing details of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale, said time had come to apply former chief justice Saqib Nisar’s 2018 ruling that the disqualification handed down under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution was for life.

Highlighting the allegations levelled in the reference, Ranjha accused Imran of getting Toshakhana gifts evaluated by his ‘friends’ so that they were undervalued and sold out: He did not declare those assets, Ranjha said. He also alleged that Imran pressurised Toshakhana staff into declaring the value of gifts lower than their actual cost. He then challenged Imran to file a defamation suit against him if the allegations levelled by him were not true.