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ISLAMABAD: The ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s immediate release from Adiala jail hit a snag as the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday refused to take up his bail plea, saying only two judges are available due to winter vacations.

A two-judge bench comprising acting Chief Justice of Pakistan Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Athar Minallah, heard a petition filed to suspend the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founding chairman’s conviction in Toshakhana case to ensure he partakes in Feb 08 general polls next year.

At the onset of the hearing, Justice Minallah observed that the suspension of the trial court’s verdict against Imran Khan in Toshakhana case cannot end his disqualification.

The PTI chief was disqualified for five years from holding any public office due to his conviction in the case.

The apex court; however, refused to fix the petition for hearing as only two judges of the SC were available owing to the winter vacation.

On December 21, IHC’s two-member bench rejected Khan’s request seeking suspension of the trial court’s verdict in the aforementioned case.

Addressing Khan’s lawyer Shahbaz Khosa, Justice Minallah said that the matter in hand was that conviction should be overturned following suspension of sentence in the case.

“There is no judicial precedence in the country’s history that suspension of sentence led to the annulment of conviction,” he remarked.

To this, Khosa said that there were judicial precedents when senior politician Javed Hashmi’s sentence was abolished along with the verdict.

“The court should see how Judge Humayun Dilawar issued five sentences in a single day,” said Khosa.

The acting chief justice Sardar Tariq Masood told Khosa that this petition could be dismissed by a two-member bench, asking him if they should do so.

The acting chief justice Sardar Tariq Masood said that hearing of Toshakhana case is not possible this week as there should be at least a three-judge bench to take up the matter, adding there are only two judges available in the court. “A two-judge bench could not give an interim relief in this particular case, as it is a division bench decision,” he said while referring to the IHC decision in Toshakhana case.

Justice Masood said the disqualification petition in the Toshakhana case should be fixed before a three-member bench.

“What if the case is on important points and should be heard by a five-member bench,” he added.

“Next week, Qazi sahib (the Chief Justice of Pakistan) will also be here (as he has gone on vacation overseas),” said Justice Masood.

The counsel for PTI’s founding chairman said that the court can still form a bench by summoning judges.

“The judges are not available here (and) you want me who should sit here and hear the case,” with this, both the judges left the courtroom.

Earlier, the SC indicated fixing another PTI’s petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as the acting chief justice said he would decide about the matter at his chamber.

In August, Khan was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of Rs100,000 by Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar on August 5, 2023, after the judge found Khan guilty of graft in the Toshakhana case.

He has been convicted of misusing his position as prime minister to sell state gifts worth more than Rs140 million ($490,000) that he received from foreign dignitaries during visits abroad.

Following his conviction in the case, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified the former PM for five years.

In a notification, the ECP stated that the PTI chief was disqualified after being found guilty of corrupt practices under Section 167 of the Elections Act, 2017 and his sentencing for three years.

“As a consequence, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi has become disqualified under Article 63(1) (h) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan read with Section 232 of the Elections Act,2017,” the notification added.

The IHC; however, on August 28, suspended the PTI founding chairman’s sentence awarded to him in the Toshakhana case but his conviction and disqualification remain intact as the IHC rejected the petition to suspend the conviction.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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E Dec 28, 2023 08:20am
The vacations should be distributed throughout the year. As these judges are local thankfully the winter vacation and court vacation should be spread over the year. With rotation like system and special bonus for judges uf they decide to make themself to a case during court holidays.
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Parvez Dec 28, 2023 01:39pm
Absurd reason.......and they and others know it.
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