ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: While a local court in Islamabad on Monday once again issued summons for PTI Chairman Imran Khan after he skipped the hearing of an ECP reference on Tosha­khana gifts, the Lahore High Court disposed of two identical petitions seeking the former premier’s disqualification in the same case.

Islamabad Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zafar Iqbal resumed the proceedings on the reference which stated that Mr Khan had deliberately concealed Toshakhana gifts, retained by him in 2018 and 2019 when he was the prime minister, in his statements of assets and liabilities filed for the year (2018-19).

It said the perusal of the record revealed that for the year 2018-19, the gifts were purchased on payment of Rs21,564,600 from Toshakhana on the basis of assessed value. The total value of the gift items was Rs107,943,000.

According to the ECP reference, Mr Khan “has deliberately concealed the material facts by not disclosing the details of gifts…has also made evasive and ambiguous statement in his written reply that the gifts purchased by him during the financial year 2019-20 were further gifted by him or on his behalf to others”.

ECP counsel seeks PTI leader’s arrest warrants; LHC disposes of two identical petitions

The PTI’s legal team submitted an application seeking exemption of Mr Khan from personal appearance for medical reasons.

Judge Iqbal pointed out that the application had been moved from the counsel who was yet to be appo­inted to represent Mr Khan.

PTI’s lawyer Syed Ali Bukhari told the court that Mr Khan had not yet signed the power of attorney. The court directed him to file the power of attorney by next hearing.

ECP’s counsel Saad Hassan requested the court to issue warrants for Imran Khan over his absence during the criminal trial.

The judge, however, remarked that the court would examine this question at an appropriate time and adjourned further proceedings till Jan 31.

Petitions disposed of

As a larger bench of the LHC headed by Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti resumed its hearing, Advocate Azhar Siddique, the counsel for one of the petitioners, stated that his client wanted to withdraw the petition since Imran Khan had personally approached the court (in Islamabad) against the petition seeking his disqualification in the Toshakhana case.

Other members at the bench were Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi.

The bench allowed the request of the counsel and disposed of the petition as withdrawn.

The bench also disposed of the other petition, which sought a direction for the ECP to remove Mr Khan from the office of PTI chairman.

The bench observed that the petition stood infructuous since the ECP had already initiated its proceedings on the matter.

This petition, filed by Advocate Muhammad Afaq, said the ECP had disqualified the former prime minister and de-seated him from Mianwali’s NA-95 constituency on charges of corrupt practices.

Therefore, as per the Representation of Peoples Act 1976 and the Political Parties Order 2002, the office bearers of a political party must meet the standards provided in articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

He argued that Mr Khan was violating the laws by continuing to head the PTI, a party registered with the ECP, and that a person disqualified under Article 63 was not entitled to become or stay as office-bearer of a political party.

Advocate Siddique had filed the petition on behalf of Jabir Abbas Khan, a voter from the NA-95, challenging the legitimacy of section 137(4) of the Election Act 2017 invoked by the ECP to de-seat Khan.

The petitioner argued that the PTI chairman had been disqualified under sections 137(4), 167 and 173 of the Elections Act despite the fact that these sections did not mention the word ‘disqualification’.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2023

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