IHC adjourns Toshakhana hearing as ECP lawyer a no show

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ISLAMABAD: Amid strong protests from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawyers, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday postponed hearing PTI chief Imran Khan’s plea against the Toshakhana verdict as the lawyer representing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) failed to appear before the court.

Yesterday, the PTI chairperson had failed to get immediate relief from the IHC which had refused to suspend an order of a trial court that sentenced him to three years in prison for making inaccurate declarations about his assets and liabilities.

The development had come with the backdrop of the apex court having raised questions about the verdict issued by Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Humayun Dilawar on August 5, noting that prima facie there were serious defects in the trial court’s verdict.

The SC had, nonetheless, observed that it would wait for the IHC to issue a verdict on a petition filed by the former prime minister against the trial court’s order.

Today, the IHC division bench led by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and comprising Justice Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri resumed hearing Imran Khan’s plea.

However, the ECP’s lawyer Advocate Amjad Pervaiz failed to appear before the court. “He is not available today as he is unwell,” his assistant lawyer told the court.

“It was a matter of bail,” CJ Farooq observed, “arguments would not have taken much time”. However, the junior lawyer informed the court that Pervaiz had been advised to remain on bed rest for two days by his doctors and requested the court to postpone the proceedings.

“A person has been behind bars for the past 20 days,” Imran’s counsel Latif Khosa protested as he suggested the junior lawyer could present the ECP’s case.

“Your junior judge has sanctioned someone to jail and they are not giving their arguments, then can’t you suspend the punishment?” Khosa pleaded the court.

CJ Farooq replied saying, “We are here to hear this case. We could also repeat what the trial court did. [But] it is our job to run the system. We will view the trial court proceedings from an administrative standpoint. We are scheduling [the hearing] for Monday.”

“Then we will not appear,” said Khosa recording a strong protest against the court.

“If you fail to appear then we will decide the matter on the basis of the record available,” responded CJ Farooq, “Two wrongs don’t make a right. We will not do what the trial court did.”

Upon this, Khosa walked out of the courtroom while the court issued orders to resume hearing the case on August 28 (Monday).

The courtroom’s decorum was disrupted by sloganeering on the part of lawyers that favoured the PTI shouting “shame” and denouncing “match fixing”.

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