ISLAMABAD: A trial court in the capital has summoned former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to appear before it on Feb 28 in a reference filed against him by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for concealing Toshakhana gifts in his assets declaration.

Additional district and sessions judge Zafar Iqbal issued the directive on Tuesday while resuming the proceedings on a criminal complaint filed by the Islamabad district election commissioner.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, counsel for the PTI chairman, sought exemption from personal appearance of his client on medical grounds and submitted an application for the purpose.

At this, the judge observed that the trial could not conclude in case the same practice [seeking exemption] continued.

Counsel for ECP Saad Hassan objected to the plea seeking exemption and pointed out that Imran Khan went to the Lahore High Court on Monday and could be seen walking on court premises.

He requested the court to issue a directive for the PTI chief’s medical examination from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).

Sealed record of state gifts received by rulers produced in LHC

Mr Khan’s counsel, on the other hand, argued that his client had arrived in the LHC from Zaman Park after a proper security arrangement was made there. But the environment in Islamabad’s sessions court is different and it is difficult for the PTI chief to appear before it as doctors have also advised him for a complete rest.

Judge Iqbal remarked that in order to proceed in this matter, the court had to frame charges on the accused. The judge adjourned hearing till Feb 28.

Terrorism charges

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Islamabad on Tuesday issued notices to the prosecution on Imran Khan’s petition seeking removal of terrorism charges against him as well as other accused nominated in a first information report (FIR) registered in connection with a protest outside the ECP office after the commission disqualified the PTI chief for concealing Toshakhana gifts.

ATC judge Raja Jawad Abbas resumed the hearing on applications filed by Imran Khan, Asad Umar, Ali Nawaz Awan and other PTI leaders against the police for invoking sections of Anti-Terrorism Act in the FIR.

Further hearing has been adjourned till Feb 27.

In a related development, a division bench of the Islamabad High Court sustained the administrative objections to a petition of Imran Khan seeking to exclude terrorism charges from the same FIR.

The IHC bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri observed that the presence of the accused person and his biometric verification are a mandatory requirement to entertain such petitions.

The bench noted that a fictitious petition has also been filed in the IHC on behalf of Mr Khan. Justice Kayani remarked that the petitioner could have sought relief from the ATC.

Toshakhana gifts record

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the federal government produced the sealed record of Toshakhana articles before the Lahore High Court.

The record was produced by a section officer of the Cabinet Division during the hearing by Justice Asim Hafeez of a petition seeking complete details of Toshakhana gifts received by political rulers and bureaucrats from foreign dignitaries since the creation of Pakistan.

Deputy Attorney General Asad Bajwa told the judge that the record was classified, but the court could make it public if deemed appropriate. He said the federal cabinet, in its next meeting, is set to take a decision on making the record of Toshakhana gifts public.

Justice Hafeez observed that the court would not open the sealed record unless the head of the Toshakhana department submitted an affidavit explaining as to how the details were classified.

The judge adjourned the hearing till Feb 23 and directed the Toshakhana department head to submit the affidavit.

Wajih Ahmad Sheikh in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 22th, 2023

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