An Islamabad district and sessions court on Monday reserved its verdict in the Toshakhana reference filed against PTI Chairman Imran Khan by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The reference was filed by the ECP last month, asking the court to proceed against Imran under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as the prime minister. It claimed that Imran had “deliberately concealed his assets relating to Toshakhana gifts retained by him particularly in year 2018 and 2019 […] in the statements of assets and liabilities filed for the year 2017-2018 and 2018-19”.
The Toshakhana is a department under the Cabinet Division that stores gifts given to rulers and government officials by heads of other governments and foreign dignitaries
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.
Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal presided over the hearing today while Advocate Saad Hasan was present in the court as the ECP's counsel.
The PTI chief, who is recuperating after sustaining a gunshot wound following an assassination bid during a rally on Nov 3, did not attend the hearing.
Giving a breakdown of the assets declared by Imran, the ECP's counsel said that Imran's declaration statements for the years 2017-2018 and 2020-2021 were correct while the ones for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 were "controversial" as some assets were declared in 2021 that had not been before.
Hasan said that Imran had taken gifts worth Rs107 million during 2018-2019 and the gifts or property taken during that period would be included in his assets.
"During the years 2019-2020, Imran Khan disclosed Rs8m in his tax return statements in the name of Toshakhana," the counsel said.
Hasan added that Imran, however, did not tell which items amounted to 8m rupees.
He clarified that the ECP considered the statements of 2020-2021 to be correct as, by that time, the Toshakhana case had reached the National Assembly and the Islamabad High Court.
The ECP's lawyer argued, "If the prime minister receives a gift, it has to be deposited in the Toshakhana."
Hasan claimed that Imran had stated that a wristwatch — an expensive Graff wristwatch gifted to him by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman — was worth Rs85m but had failed to disclose the amount for which he sold it later.
He added, "The case is not about the wristwatch. The case is about the assets declared by Imran Khan."
The counsel further said that the former premier and his wife "had taken 58 gifts from the Toshakhana". "The value of the 58 items taken by Imran Khan in three years is Rs142m," Hasan added.
"It is a crime if someone, who is contesting for the Senate, provincial or National Assembly, does not declare his assets," the ECP counsel said.
He said that Imran had deposited less than a third of the total value of all the gifts as he did not want to publicly disclose the value of the gifts.
The counsel added, "Imran Khan had obtained gifts worth Rs107m from the Toshakhana at 20 per cent of the price."
"Imran Khan actually did not even want that the gifts worth Rs142m are disclosed publicly," Hasan said. "Imran Khan's way of [dealing with the] Toshakhana is similar to that of money laundering."
The ECP counsel asserted that Imran was liable to tell how he treated each gift he had received and also to declare them in his statements.
Following the hearing, the case's verdict was reserved by Justice Iqbal.
Last week, the ECP also set into motion the process of removing Imran as the chairman of PTI, the next hearing for which will be heard tomorrow.