Verdict reserved on Imran Khan’s plea in Toshakhana, £190 million cases

Imran Khan cipher case

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has reserved verdict on a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan who has challenged the jail trial of Toshakhana and the £190 million cases.

The hearing was conducted on the PTI founder’s plea against the jail trial in the Toshakhana and £190 million case.

IHC Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri heard the case.

Founder PTI’s lawyers Shoaib Shaheen and Niazullah Niazi appeared in court, along with Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan and NAB Special Prosecutor Amjad Parvez advocate. The arguments from both parties’ lawyers continued from the previous day.

Lawyer Shoaib Shaheen argued that after the new amendment to NAB laws, the authority to appoint judges has changed.

According to the old law, he said, the president had the power to appoint, but now it lies with the federal government. In one case, the notification was issued on November 28, while the reference was filed on December 20; in the other case, the notification was issued on November 14, and the reference was filed on December 4.

Amjad Parvez stated that on November 13, the founder of Tehreek-e-Insaaf was arrested in the Al-Qadir Trust case, emphasizing the element of necessary haste.

Shoaib Shaheen countered by saying that on November 13, NAB made a request, and the summary was prepared in a single day with cabinet approval. He raised concerns that while everyone else was allowed to go, his assistant lawyers were not permitted to leave, despite having their names and credentials on the list.

Shoaib Shaheen argued that most of their files were returned after a day and promised to present legal points on why Section 352 is needed. He addressed the Attorney General’s assertion that the public has access to the court, citing various court decisions regarding Section 352.

Advocate Shoaib Shaheen, while reading different court decisions, contended that, according to these judgments, there should be an open trial. He highlighted that the public was expected to be allowed in, but it did not happen; the open trial occurred in a closed room, and it became open only for the reference with a court order.

Referring to Asif Zardari’s case, Advocate Shoaib Shaheen clarified that they would only mention the judgment of their client’s other case. He differentiated between Section 16B and Section 92, stating that court placement and jail trial are two different things. He emphasized that the notification must be issued after the advice of the judge, who has left all other work and is currently only conducting the hearing in the jail.

Shoaib Shaheen pointed out that the trial has started in one NAB case, while charges are yet to be filed in the other. He cited a case where the concerned judge had written a letter to the government for a jail trial, yet the High Court declared the trial null and void due to the absence of a judicial order.

After Shoaib Shaheen’s arguments, NAB prosecutor Amjad Parvez commenced his arguments and mentioned that NAB wrote a letter to the federal cabinet for the Toshakhana case, and the PTI founder approached the court for pre-arrest bail. The jail hearing notification for the Toshakhana case was issued on November 28. Due to security issues, the notification for the jail hearing of the PTI founder, a former prime minister, was issued.

Amjad Parvez referred to the Asif Ali Zardari case and mentioned the American and Indian Supreme Courts. He cited a 1931 case related to prison trial and referred to the recent decision of the 2-member bench on different grounds.

When the IHC chief justice inquired whether the court has the authority to decide if the rest of the trial should be conducted in the judicial complex, Amjad Parvez asserted that the court has the right to make this decision at any stage.

Amjad Parvez, in support of his contention, cited the judgment of the Bombay Court in 1931 and argued that in three lines of that judgment, all the questions in the present case are answered. He emphasized that once the notification for the sitting of the court is issued, another order is not necessarily required. He argued that there is no common issue in the cases as per Shoaib Shaheen’s judgments.

Amjad Parvez concluded by stating that the federal cabinet issued the order, and they do not have the authority to decide who should go to trial.”

“NAB Prosecutor Amjad Parvez, while completing the arguments, stated that, according to legal aspects, the presence of the accused in the trial is mandatory.

Imran Khan’s lawyer, Shoaib Shaheen, while beginning the counter-arguments, said that it is clear that the process has to be conducted by the trial court. The trial court will decide; we are not saying that there cannot be a trial in jail, but the process has to be completed by the trial court.

After hearing the arguments from both parties, the IHC reserved its verdict on Imran Khan’s pleas against jail trial in NAB cases.

It should be noted that Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were charged on January 9 in the Toshakhana case. Rawalpindi Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Basheer heard the Toshakhana case in Adiala jail, with Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi present in the courtroom along with their lawyers. The court read the charge sheet to the accused in the courtroom, and after hearing the charge sheet, the accused denied the crime.

It should be remembered that on August 5 last year, the Islamabad court convicted Imran Khan of corruption in the Toshakhana case and sentenced him to three years in prison.

He was arrested from his residence. Later, on August 29, the Islamabad High Court ordered the release of Imran Khan, who was imprisoned in Attock jail after his arrest in the Toshakhana case. However, the special court had ordered to keep the former prime minister in jail under the Official Secrets Act in the cipher case.

On December 6, the Islamabad High Court rejected Imran Khan’s appeal against his disqualification in the Toshakhana reference.

Toshakhana reference

It should be noted that the Election Commission of Pakistan sent the reference of criminal proceedings against Imran Khan to the court after the decision to disqualify him in the Toshakhana case.

A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued for his non-appearance. On the request of 5 members of the former ruling coalition PDM, the Speaker of the National Assembly sent the Toshakhana reference to the Election Commission for the disqualification of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The reference alleged that Imran Khan did not disclose the income earned by selling gifts from the Toshakhana under assets. The reference, filed under Article 63 of the Constitution, sought the disqualification of Imran Khan under Article 62 (one) (f).

During the case hearing, Imran Khan’s lawyer, Barrister Ali Zafar, argued that disqualification under Section 62 (one) (f) is solely the jurisdiction of the judiciary, and according to the Supreme Court, the Election Commission is not a court.

Imran Khan submitted his written response to the election commission on September 7 in connection with the Toshakhana reference. According to the response, 58 gifts were given to the prime minister and his wife between August 1, 2018, and December 31, 2021.

It was reported that these gifts mostly consisted of flower vases, tablecloths, decorative items, wall decorations, small carpets, wallets, perfumes, rosaries, calligraphy, frames, paperweights, and pen holders. However, they also included watches, pens, cufflinks, rings, and bracelets/lockets.

In response, Imran Khan stated that among all these gifts, there were only 14 items worth more than 30 thousand rupees, which he bought by paying money according to the regular procedure. Imran Khan admitted in his reply that he had sold 4 gifts during his tenure as Prime Minister.

The former prime minister mentioned that after paying Rs 21.6 crore, he received around Rs 5.8 million from the government treasury from the sale of gifts, which included a watch, cufflinks, an expensive pen, and a ring. The other 3 gifts included 4 Rolex watches.

ON October 21, 2022, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference filed against him under sub-clause ‘P’ of Clause ‘A’ of Article 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The £190 million case

It should be noted that in the Al-Qadir Trust case, allegations suggest that Imran Khan and his wife legitimized the £50 billion sent to the government of Pakistan by the British National Crime Agency (NCA) during the PTI regime. This was done in exchange for providing billions of rupees and hundreds of kanals of land from Bahria Town Limited.

The case pertains to the alleged illegal acquisition and construction of land for Al-Qader University, involving a £140 million money laundering case against Malik Riaz and his family by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

Imran Khan is also accused of misleading the cabinet by concealing facts regarding the settlement agreement. The amount (£140 million) received under the settlement agreement was supposed to be deposited in the national exchequer, but it was adjusted to recover Rs450 billion dues of Bahria Town Karachi.

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