IHC suspends Imran Khan's jail sentence in Toshakhana case

IHC suspends Imran Khan's jail sentence in Toshakhana case

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday suspended jail sentence of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former premier Imran Khan in Toshakhana case.

A two-member bench of the IHC comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri heard the case.

The court announced the short verdict that it reserved a day earlier wherein it directed the authorities to release the PTI chief on bail.

The court in ruled that a detailed verdict in the case would be issued later.

Meanwhile, a petition was submitted in the IHC on behalf of Khan by his lawyer Suleman Safdar, praying to the court to restrain the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the police from arresting him in any other case.

The PTI's legal team requested the court to hear this plea today.

However, the former premier is likely to remain under detention at the Attock Jail in connection with the cipher case as a special court, recently established to hear cases under the Official Secrets Act, has directed the jail authorities to keep Imran in “judicial lockup” and produce him on August 30 (Wednesday). 

That accused Imran Khan Niazi s/o Ikramullah Khan Niazi r/o Zaman Park, Lahore is hereby ordered for judicial remand in case FIR mentioned above, who is already detained in district jail, Attock, ” the court direction read.

The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document which reportedly went missing from Khan’s possession. 

The PTI has been alleging that the document contained a threat from the United States (US) to oust former premier Imran Khan from power. 

Proceedings against PTI vice chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the same case are also under way.

Imran Khan was arrested on August 5 after a after an Islamabad trial court declared him guilty of “corrupt practices” in the Toshakhana case.

He was awarded a three-year jail term by Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar, in the case filed by the ECP for allegedly concealing Toshakhana gifts he had retained.

The PTI chief was shifted to Attock Jail after being arrested soon after the verdict was announced.

Later, the former premier had moved the IHC, through his lawyers, against the trial court’s August 5 verdict, saying that the said order was “liable to be set aside” as it was passed “with the pre-disposed mind.”

As the IHC resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) counsel Amjad Pervaiz, who could not appear in the previous hearing due to illness, presented his arguments before the court.

Beginning arguments, the ECP lawyer said that it is necessary to first issue a notice to the public prosecutor.

At this, Justice Aamer Farooq observed that the case was filed by the federal electoral body and not the state.

"You did not bring this up before the trial court. This is the first time you are mentioning this," he remarked.

Amjad Pervaiz also referred to the Rahul Gandhi case, saying that the Indian politician was sentenced to two years in the private complaint case. The Indian National Congress leader challenged the verdict and the court dismissed his plea.

The ECP lawyer also referred to other past verdicts, including the Zahoor Elahi case, and argued that the hearing on the appeal could not proceed without notifying the government.

The attendance of three lawyers is marked in all such cases, said advocate Pervez, mentioning the defence, prosecution, and state counsels.

Regarding maintainability and the matter of the district court holding a direct hearing, the ECP lawyer argued that "The trial of any crime committed under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) is conducted under the CrPC," he said, contending that no complaint regarding corrupt practices or corruption has been heard by a judicial magistrate in the past 50 years more or less.

The lawyer maintained that the trial has to be held by a court regardless of whether the complaint was filed under a magistrate or directly.

Arguing on the objections raised by the PTI chief in his appeal, the ECP lawyer said, "They argue that the complaint did not come to the session court after being heard by the magistrate but the jurisdiction is still the session court's".

He asked whether Imran's legal team could present "one judgment where the complaint reached the court after being heard by a magistrate".

The ECP's lawyer stated that he had referred to 14 past verdicts in his arguments thus far and requested a 15 minute recess, which the bench permitted.

Later the court resumed the hearing and Advocate Pervez continued his arguments.
During the proceeding PTI lawyer Latif Khosa informed the court that he did not have any objection to the ECP's request to make the state party to the case.

Subsequently, the bench reserved the verdict and adjourned the hearing.

During the last hearing, PTI lawyer Latif Khosa completed his arguments.

CJ Aamer Farooq had said that the request for suspension of sentence was now at a critical stage.

“The arguments would have been completed in 15 to 20 minutes’, the IHC CJ said, adding that the bench can also do what the trial court did, but we will not.

The PTI has criticised the trial court’s verdict saying that the decision was announced in haste in the absence of the party chief and his lawyer.