Toshakhana: Court to announce verdict on ECP plea against Imran Khan on Dec 15

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ISLAMABAD: A district and sessions court in Islamabad Monday reserved the verdict on a plea filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the Toshakhana case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

The verdict will be announced on December 15 at 2pm.

On November 22, the trial court took up the Toshakhana reference filed by Election Commission against Khan for allegedly indulging in corrupt practices, which the former premier denies.

As per the electoral body’s order, the trial court in Islamabad sent a notice to the PTI chief in the trial opened against him in the Toshakhana reference.

Later, Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal adjourned the hearing till December 8, 2022.

Today’s hearing

At the outset of the hearing, ECP’s lawyer Saad Hassan appeared before the court and presented his arguments.

“Imran Khan said that he constructed a road with the money [acquired from] Toshakhana [gifts],” he said, adding that a prime minister has to deposit any gift they receive to the Toshakhana.

He further stated that the Toshakhana gifts could be retained after paying 20% of the gift’s price until the PTI government introduced a new law which allowed taking the Toshakhana gifts after paying 50% of its price.

“The price of the watch was estimated at Rs85 million,” he said, adding that Khan failed to state the amount for which he sold the Toshakhana watch.

Hassan stated if any Toshakhana items were transferred then it was mandatory to mention them in the tax income statements.

“It is not possible to personally own an item from the Toshakhana without declaring it,” said the lawyer.

He said that the Election Commission “believes the income tax statements provided by the former premier in 2022-2021 are correct”, adding that the Toshakhana matter was brought to the National Assembly and the case was taken to the high court in 2020-2021.

Lawyer Hassan said that Khan’s way of dealing with the Toshakhana gifts is tantamount to money laundering.

“Imran Khan said that he has deposited the amount [ he paid for] for all the items in the same bank account,” said the ECP’s lawyer, adding that the properties or gifts taken by Khan during 2018-2019 would be counted among his assets.

Khan should’ve disclosed all his assets before Election Commission, said Hassan. “Ex-premier also took jewellery from the Toshakhana but did not declare it.”

The lawyer said that the former prime minister also talked about four goats and Rs500,000 in the statements.

The lawyer maintained that the former premier and his wife took a total of 58 gifts from Toshakhana during three years which were worth Rs142 million, at an amount equal to 20% of the gifts’ cost.

He said that Khan acquired the gifts from Toshakhana worth Rs107 million out of the said Rs142 million during 2018-19.

The lawyer further stated that Khan didn’t want to make the gifts worth Rs142 million public

“In 2019/20 Khan declared Rs8 million on account of tax returns but didn’t reveal which item’s price it was,” the lawyer stated.

Disqualification

Last month, ECP, in a consensus verdict in Toshakana reference, disqualified the former prime minister and ruled that the PTI chief was no more a member of the National Assembly.

The ECP stated that the PTI chief had submitted a false affidavit and was found involved in corrupt practices under Article 63(1)(p).

“As a sequel to our abovementioned findings, facts available on record and keeping in view the argument of learned counsel for parties herein, we are of the considered opinion that the Respondent has become disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution read with Section 137,167 and 173 of the Elections Act,2017, consequently he ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and his seat has become vacant accordingly,” the ECP order stated.

In the verdict, ECP also declared that Khan had made “false statements and incorrect declarations, therefore he has also committed the offence of corrupt practices defined under Sections 167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017”.

It added that the offence was, punishable under Section 174 of the Elections Act, 2017 and directed legal proceedings and follow-up action under Section 190(2) of the Elections Act.