The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday decided to constitute a larger bench to hear a petition seeking PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s disqualification for not mentioning “his daughter Tyrian Jade White” in his nomination papers.

A day ago, Imran had submitted a response to the IHC requesting the petition against him to be dismissed, arguing it was “not maintainable” on legal grounds.

In his response, the PTI chief had argued he was not a member of the National Assembly anymore, therefore such a petition was “not maintainable and may not be proceeded (sic)”.

Last year, petitioner Sajid Mahmood had approached the IHC claiming that although Imran made arrangements for Tyrian White’s upkeep abroad, he did not disclose it in nomination papers and affidavits filed by him for elections.

IHC Chief Justice Amir Farooq presided over the hearing today and adjourned the next hearing till February 9.

Salman Butt was present from the petitioner’s side while Imran’s counsels included Advocate Salman Akram Raja’s assistant and Advocate Salman Abuzar Niazi.

Imran’s counsel Raja excused himself from attending the hearing citing duties in the Supreme Court.

The hearing

At the outset of the hearing, Raja’s assistant clarified that Raja was present in the Supreme Court’s bench number one.

The petitioner’s lawyer remarked that Raja had submitted a written response.

To this, Justice Farooq responded, “In the reply, it has been said that Imran is not a National Assembly member anymore.” The lawyer added the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) itself had denotified Imran.

The judge said, “It will be appropriate that the new situation regarding Imran Khan is determined. The affidavit that has been referred to in the plea is from 2018.”

The assistant lawyer representing Imran insisted, “The ECP de-seated Imran and he also resigned.”

The IHC chief justice then raised the point that the bench’s constitution had also been objected to in the response. The assistant lawyer responded that he was a respectable judge and there is no such thing.

“There had been separation from the case due to some reasons. As there is no hurry in this case, you can give a date in March [for the next hearing],” he added.

Advocate Niazi said, “You are the best judge. We only presented some information.”

Justice Farooq responded, “In 2018, the recusal from hearing this case was not due to personal reasons. Currently, the petitioner has requested to present the case in front of a specific bench.

“However, you raised an objection so let’s reconstitute the bench. We will keep the matter in front of a larger bench,” he ruled.

The petition

Mahmood, the petitioner, had alleged that the PTI chairman did not marry Sita White because her “racist father categorically told the respondent (Imran) that if he married Sita, they would not get a penny of his money”.

“Only thereafter, he met Jemima, another rich lady, and in a very short time married her.”

The petition, titled “Imran versus Imran — the untold story”, recalled the circumstances in which the custody of Tyrian Jade was given to Jemima.

It stated that Ana-Lusia White, in her will of Feb 27, 2004, had nominated Jemima Khan as guardian of her daughter Tyrian Jade Khan-White. Sita White died that year on May 13.

The petition went on to state: “Jemima Goldsmith had been the spouse of Imran Khan (1995-2004).

“The concealed facts stood confirmed by a judgement of paternity rendered by a superior court in California in favour of Sita White where it was held that the respondent (Imran Khan) was the father of Tyrian Jade.”

Imran Khan initially joined the proceedings through his attorney, but defaulted after he was asked to undergo a blood test, it added.

However, he later submitted a declaration to a court of guardianship when Caroline White, Sita’s sister, asked the court that she be appointed Tyrian’s guardian, the petition alleged.

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