ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday said first it would decide about the admissibility of the case and then will proceed in the petition seeking disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for “concealing” his alleged daughter Tyrian White.
A larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and also comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Arbab Tahir, heard the petition seeking disqualification of the PTI chairman for concealing his alleged daughter in the nomination papers submitted to contest the 2018 general elections.
Sajid Mahmood has filed a petition in the IHC claiming that although Imran made arrangements for Tyrian White’s upkeep abroad, he did not disclose it in nomination papers and affidavits filed by him for elections.
During the hearing, the chief justice questioned whether Imran Khan was still a public office holder and whether merely winning National Assembly seats made someone a public office holder.
However, Khan’s lawyer Salman Akram Raja said that there was a question of the admissibility of the petition, as well as, the court’s jurisdiction. Justice Aamer said that the bench was not asking him (lawyer) to give arguments on the merits of the case. He added that if one goes on the merits then it is a two-minute case.
The petitioner’s lawyer, Hamid Shah, said that when the court had issued the notice, Imran should have submitted a reply on the merits, but he instead raised five objections on the plea. He said the PTI’s chief had adopted the stance that he was no more a member of the National Assembly.
He submitted that Imran had been disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the Toshakhana case adjudging the National Assembly constituency from where he was elected in the 2018 general election vacant. However, he had challenged the ECP’s decision in the court, which stayed the by-elections in said constituency. Shah said that the ECP had notified Imran Khan’s success from another constituency.
Justice Farooq said that despite all that Imran Khan was no longer an MNA from that seat. He asked the lawyers to give their arguments on the following questions: What was the status as he had not taken oath from that constituency and whether the head of a political party was a public office holder.
The IHC chief justice remarked that the court would first decide about the admissibility of the case and then, it would proceed further. The petitioner’s counsel said that there was a decision of the American court regarding Imran Khan and the PTI chief had submitted an affidavit in the American court.
Justice Aamer observed that it was not an affidavit but a declaration, which was signed by an oath commissioner in Pakistan. The petitioner’s lawyer asserted that Khan as a father had given the declaration to hand over the guardianship of “his daughter”.
Justice Kayani said that the word “father” was not used anywhere in that declaration. The IHC chief justice questioned what would be the fate of the petition if the National Assembly is dissolved today. He observed that Faisal Vawda’s case was also based on a false affidavit.
The petitioner’s lawyer said that the circumstances and events were different in the Faisal Vawda case as he had gone to the Supreme Court and tendered an apology.
Justice Farooq asked that if Khan also sought forgiveness, then what would be the position; whether the disqualification would be for life if the affidavit proved to be false. The IHC had disqualified Khawaja Asif but the Supreme Court annulled the decision, he added.
Justice Kayani asked whether it was possible for a person to find out much later that he had a child and whether a person could be disqualified on that basis. The chief justice questioned whether an adopted child was to be disclosed by a person among his dependents.
Justice Kayani remarked that in this case, the real affected party is the girl who can claim that he is his father.
Later, the court adjourned the hearing of the case till March 29 for further proceedings.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023