• Asks IHC to consider PTI chief’s contentions against trial court’s jurisdiction, complaint maintainability
  • Says trial court defied apex as well as high court’s orders in passing Toshakhana judgment

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial observed on Wednesday that there were prima facie serious defects in the trial court’s judgment in Toshakhana case against former premier Imran Khan.

The chief justice’s observation came as a three-judge special bench of the Supreme Court (SC) – comprising the CJP, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail – heard the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief’s pleas filed against his conviction in the Toshakhana case by the trial court.

During Proceedings on Wednesday, the apex court raised questions on the trial court’s judgment awarding a three-year sentence to Imran Khan in the case.

The three-judge bench asked Islamabad High Court (IHC) to consider the former premier’s contentions about the trial court’s jurisdiction, maintainability of the complaint and transfer of judges etc. tomorrow.

The bench adjourned the hearing of the case till Thursday (today) 2pm.

The bench also questioned the urgency shown by the trial court in deciding the case without recording the statements of witnesses.

Justice Naqvi noted that the trial court defied the orders of the apex as well as high court in passing the Toshakhana judgment.

Special bench

Two days ago, the SC formed a bench to hear appeals related to Toshakhana case on August 23 (today), following appeals made by the former prime minister against his conviction.

The PTI chairman had also challenged the IHC’ s decision on August 3, wherein the high court had referred the matter to district and sessions judge Humayun Dilawar — the judge who convicted the former premier in the case.

The move prompted the PTI to file an appeal against the decision in the SC.

Imran was arrested for the second time in three months on August 5, 2023, after a district and sessions court sentenced him to three years in prison in the gifts repository case.

The party has also challenged the trial court’s ruling before the Islamabad High Court.

Shortly after the verdict, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified the PTI chief for five years and revoked his status as a returned candidate from NA-45 Kurram due to his conviction in the Toshakhana case.

Over 150 cases have been filed against the PTI chief since he was ousted from office in April 2022 through a vote of no-confidence.

‘Deep, settled bias’

With the apex court forming a special bench to hear Imran’s pleas, the PTI also appeared to giving a momentum to its aggressive policy towards IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq. Earlier today, it filed a complaint of misconduct against him, accusing him of having “deep and settled bias” against the party chief.

In a petition filed before the SC, the former prime minister has alleged that he was being held in Attock jail after being “convicted on a cooked up and fabricated charge after a ‘trial’ in gross abuse of due process” for which he primarily blamed the IHC chief justice.

“More than sufficient incontrovertible evidence is available to establish the deep and settled bias of the CJ IHC towards the petitioner,” the application read, accusing him of “endeavouring to do everything to keep the petitioner behind bars with the intent that he be unable to contest the forthcoming general elections and thus be ousted from the politics of Pakistan.”

Imran, in his petition, also accused Additional Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar of “despising” him as well as claimed that CJ Farooq had “instrumented” the local judge “to advance their common objective”.

“In fact, the hon’ble CJ IHC handsomely rewarded the learned ASJ after their common project had been achieved through the petitioner’s aforesaid illegal conviction,” he alleged.

The petition also hinted at reservations against Judge Dilawar’s verdict in the Toshakhana (gift repository) case whereby Imran was sentenced to three years in jail.

However, it primarily highlighted how “the learned CJ IHC has demonstrated his bias and prejudice against the petitioner” across cases.

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