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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court declined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman’s plea to stay the criminal proceedings against him in the Toshakhana case before the District and Sessions Court, Islamabad.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Mussarat Hilali, on Wednesday, heard PTI chief Imran Khan’s appeal to set aside the Islamabad High Court (IHC)’s order remanding the case to the District and Sessions Court, Islamabad, to decide it within seven days.

Before the start of the proceeding, Justice Afridi was annoyed by the uproar outside the courtroom due to the PTI supporters. The bench members said they could not hear the case in this situation and directed the SC staff and the counsels of both sides to try to maintain calm.

Toshakhana case: IK summoned for recording statement

The judges emphasized the importance of respecting the court and left the courtroom, but returned when the situation normalised.

As the proceeding resumed, Khawaja Haris, representing Imran Khan, informed the bench that two petitions were already pending with the IHC, one concerning the trial court’s jurisdiction and the other seeking the transfer of Imran’s trial from the court of Additional District Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on October 21, 2022, disqualified Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”. It also filed a complaint against Imran Khan in Toshakhana gifts.

In May, this year, ADSJ Humayun Dilawar rejected Imran Khan’s challenge to the maintainability of the Toshakhana reference and indicted him in the case. The trial court’s decision was challenged before the IHC, which remanded the case back to the former on July 4 to re-examine the matter in seven days in the light of legal questions to decide the maintainability of the reference. The trial court had then announced starting criminal proceedings, against the former prime minister in the Toshakhana case on July 12 after rejecting his plea against the maintainability of the ECP’s complaint.

The PTI chief challenged the IHC’s order before the apex court requesting to set aside the IHC’s directive. He also sought a stay on the proceedings before ADSJ Dilawar until his appeal was decided.

ECP’s lawyer Amjad Pervez stated that the IHC’s order in the case had already been implemented and a hearing on a petition against the trial court’s order was scheduled for tomorrow. Justice Afridi pointed out that since the two pleas were currently pending before the IHC, issuing directives to the trial court would not be appropriate. The court expressed hope that the IHC would hear all identical petitions filed by the PTI chief alongside this case.

The apex court then rejected the PTI counsel’s plea to halt criminal proceedings in the case, referred the case back to the IHC and disposed of the petition.

According to the PTI’s appeal, the IHC was not legally justified in remanding the same questions of law that formed the basis of the impugned order for re-determination by the same trial judge who had already given his judgement.

Moreover, Imran added, the IHC set aside the petitioner’s plea by remanding the matter back to the trial court for re-decision despite the fact that the petitioner had also applied for transfer of the complaint from the trial judge to any other court.

The petitioner contended the IHC had committed a jurisdictional error in remanding the case to the same trial judge against whom an application had been filed fmor transfer of the case.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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