IHC rejects Imran’s plea seeking withdrawal of appeal against disqualification in Toshakhana referenceBreaking

December 06, 2023

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday rejected former prime minister Imran Khan’s request to withdraw his appeal against disqualification in the Toshakhana reference. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq announced the verdict, which was reserved on September 13. The reference alleging that Imran — who is currently incarcerated at Adiala Jail in the Toshakhana, Al-Qadir Trust and cipher cases — had not shared details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana and proceeds from their reported sales was filed by lawmakers from the ruling coalition last year. 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. On October 21, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had concluded that the former premier had indeed made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts.

The watchdog’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution. Subsequently, the ex-premier had approached the IHC against the electoral body’s decision contending that he had purchased the assets legally hence there was no reason for him not to mention the gifts in his assets statement.However, on January 18, the PTI filed a fresh plea in IHC seeking to withdraw the petition, saying that Imran wanted the Lahore High Court to hear the matter.

The reference The reference was filed against Imran by the Pakistan Democratic Movement, for “not sharing details” of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale. The PTI, while in government, had been reluctant to disclose details of the gifts presented to Imran since he assumed office in 2018, maintaining that doing so would jeopardise international ties, even as the Pakistan Infor­mation Commission (PIC) ordered it to do so. But later, in a written reply submitted to the ECP on September 8, 2022, Imran had admitted to selling at least four presents he had received during his tenure as the prime minister. The former premier, in his reply, had maintained that the sale of the gifts that he had procured from the state treasury after paying Rs21.56 million fetched about Rs58m. One of the gifts included a graff wristwatch, a pair of cuff links, an expensive pen and a ring while the other three gifts included four Rolex watches.

The reference against Imran was filed by MNA Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha carrying signatures of lawmakers Agha Hassan Baloch, Salahudeen Ayubi, Ali Gohar Khan, Syed Rafiullah Agha and Saad Waseem Sheikh and it was subsequently forwarded to CEC Raja. In their disqualification reference, MNAs from the ruling alliance included documentary evidence to corroborate their claims against the ex-premier and sought his disqualification under Sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f).

Article 62(1)(f) says: “A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless […] he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law.” Article 63(2) says: “If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within thirty days and should he fail to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission.” While, Article 63(3) reads: “The Election Commission shall decide the question within ninety days from its receipt or deemed to have been received and if it is of the opinion that the member has become disqualified, he shall cease to be a member and his seat shall become vacant.”

Credit: Independent News Pakistan (INP)