Imran’s indictment in Toshakhana reference deferred yet again

An Islamabad district and sessions court deferred — for a second time — on Tuesday PTI chairman Imran Khan’s indictment in the Toshakhana reference on medical grounds as the judge remarked that if this delay continued, his trial would continue indefinitely.

Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zafar Iqbal has instructed Imran to appear before the court in person on Feb 28.

On Jan 31, the court had announced that charges against the PTI chief — who is recuperating after sustaining a gunshot wound following an assassination attempt during a rally on Nov 3 — would take place in the reference on Feb 7.

However, in the previous hearing, Imran’s lawyers filed an exemption plea for a personal appearance in court, after which the ex-premier’s indictment was delayed to today.

The reference, which alleges that Imran failed to share details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana (during his time as the prime minister) and proceeds from their reported sales, was filed by lawmakers from the ruling coalition last year. On October 21, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had concluded that the former premier had made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts.

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. According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

The watchdog’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

Subsequently, the ECP had approached the Islamabad sessions court with a copy of the reference, seeking criminal proceedings against Imran for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as the prime minister.

Imran has engaged a team of senior lawyers comprising Khawaja Haris Ahmed, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Advocate Ali Bukhari to contest the ECP complaint in the case.

The hearing

At the outset of the hearing today, the PTI chief’s lawyer filed another exemption request in court. “An x-ray of Imran Khan will be conducted on Feb 28,” Advocate Gohar said.

Here, the court pointed out that if this (Imran’s absence) continued, the trial would never end.

The ECP lawyer also objected to the exemption request, saying that a medical certificate was not attached to the plea.

“An order should be passed to [form] a medical board for Imran,” he requested, adding that a medical examination of the PTI chief should be conducted.

At that, the court asked Imran’s lawyer to produce a medico-legal certificate of his client so it could learn about the extent of his injuries.

At one point in the hearing, copies of the case records were distributed.

“According to the law, copies of the case are given to the accused in his presence [in court]. Imran Khan was summoned today for the same reason,” ADSJ Iqbal said.

He also asked how the court could determine Imran’s heath without a medico-legal certificate. “Why not conduct a medical [examination] of Imran at the Pims hospital,” the judge added.

Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till Feb 28 as the court instructed Imran’s lawyer to ensure the PTI chief’s presence at the next proceedings.

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