Former PTI chief filed an appeal against electoral body’s verdict on October 28, 2022
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday turned down former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s plea to withdraw his appeal challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) verdict on his disqualification in the Toshakhana case.
The former prime minister had filed an appeal against the electoral body’s verdict on October 28, 2022, and later sought withdrawal on January 18, 2023.
Khan sought withdrawal of the appeal at the IHC as the matter was pending in the Lahore High Court.
IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq announced the court’s decision which was reserved on September 13 after hearing arguments of all the parties.
On October 21, 2022, the electoral watchdog, in a consensus verdict, had disqualified the former prime minister under Article 63(1)(p) and ruled that the PTI founder was no more a member of the National Assembly. He was disqualified for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.
The ECP had stated that Imran submitted a false affidavit and was found involved in corrupt practices under Article 63(1)(p). The decision was taken unanimously by the electoral authority’s five-member bench.
The deposed prime minister challenged his disqualification in the IHC, praying to the court to set aside the judgment as what he said the ECP had no jurisdiction over the matter.
In the meantime, a separate petition was filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) against Imran’s disqualification. The petition challenged the ECP’s relevant section under which Imran was disqualified.
Initially, the petitioner did not apprise the IHC about his second plea in the LHC over the same matter. Later, the PTI founder requested the IHC to allow him to withdraw his plea as he reportedly wanted the LHC to proceed with the case.
During proceedings, IHC Chief Justice Aamir Farooq expressed his annoyance over concealing the matter about the second petition in the LHC and remarked: “In principle, the case should proceed in the court where the appeal was filed first.”
Imran’s counsel argued that a larger bench of the LHC was hearing the case.
After hearing the arguments from all sides, the IHC reserved its verdict on September 13, 2023. The court will announce its reserved judgment on Wednesday (today).
In August 2022, National Assembly then-speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf sent a reference to the ECP under Articles 62A, 63A, and 223, seeking former prime minister Imran Khan’s disqualification in the light of the Toshakhana scam.
The disqualification reference was filed by Ali Gohar Khan, PML-N’s Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha, and five others.
The 28-page reference identified 52 gift items of Toshakhana received by the former prime minister Imran Khan, violating the law and rules, taken away at nominal prices and most of the gifts were sold in the market, including some precious watches.
The assessed value of the gifts has been put at Rs142,042,100. The gifts were received between August 2018 and December 2021.
According to Ranjha, Imran concealed information about the gift of watches by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in his statement of assets submitted in 2018-2019.
This withholding of information is tantamount to lying which, according to Ranjha, is a crime under Section 137.
He thus said that Imran was no more Sadiq and Ameen and should be slapped with disqualification for life from contesting the election under Article 62(1)(f), Article 2, Article 3 of the Constitution.
Article 62(1)(f) is the same legal instrument that disqualified former PM Nawaz Sharif from contesting elections and led to his removal from power, Ranjha said.