IHC rejects PTI chief’s plea seeking immediate suspension of sentence


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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday refused to grant Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief instant relief in the Toshakhana case as his application seeking the immediate suspension of his sentence was rejected by the court.

Nevertheless, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq remarked that the matter would be fixed for hearing within the next four to five days and the court then proceeded to issue notices to concerned parties.

Notably, the deposed prime minister was arrested and sent to the famous Attock jail on August 5 hours after a trial court in Islamabad sentenced him to three years in prison while imposing on him a fine of Rs100,000 for making false declarations about his assets to the polls supervisory body, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Additional Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar also disqualified the PTI chief for five years, apparently ending his prospects for taking part in the elections slated for November this year, provided that superior courts do not come to his rescue this time.

A petition challenging a trial court’s verdict in the Toshakhana (gift repository) case against the PTI chief was filed yesterday by lawyers Khawaja Haris and Barrister Gohar Ali Khan on behalf of the former premier. “The decision of the trial court in the Toshakhana case is against the law,” stated the plea seeking for the verdict to be annulled.

Imran Khan had requested the high court to issue an order for his release by suspending the sentence pending the decision on the central appeal.

During the proceedings today, Khawaja Haris argued that the trial court had announced its verdict without allowing him the opportunity to plead Imran’s case.

“The IHC had pronounced its verdict concerning the maintainability of the reference within seven days. On the third day, I said that I would present my arguments on Monday which would have been the fifth day [of the proceedings]. But, the trial court pronounced its verdict without hearing us,” he regretted.

The lawyer also went on to claim that his clerk was allegedly harassed at the IHC and the Supreme Court premises. “My clerk was harassed and not allowed to file applications. An application against this was also filed with the apex court,” he said.

CJ Farooq acknowledged that he had also come to know of the incident and that “we will look into it”.

PTI lawyer Latif Khosa also lamented the “hastiness” displayed in the trial court proceedings saying that “this has never happened that an issue was pending at a high court and the trial court pronounced its verdict. This is the equivalent of making a mockery of the judiciary.”

Khosa made these remarks while making a reference to the plea filed with the IHC whereby the PTI chief had claimed that his right to defence was being denied to him at the lower court.

The court rejected the request for suspension of the sentence today but issued notices at the request of the PTI chief’s legal team. The lawyers also requested the court to fix the matter for a hearing on Thursday (tomorrow).

“It is not possible to hear the matter tomorrow,” said CJ Farooq but he assured them that the case would be heard within the next few days.

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