The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday adjourned for a day the hearing into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s appeal against his conviction in the Toshakhana case, as the Supreme Court similarly adjourned till next week an appeal against the high court’s refusal to transfer the case to a different trial court.
Taking up the matter, a two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Memhmood Jahangiri heard arguments from advocate Latif Khosa, representing the PTI chief, and Amjad Pervaiz, representing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). As the proceedings began, Khosa urged the court to suspend the PTI chief’s conviction on three grounds, including the trial court lacking the jurisdiction to hear the Toshakhana case.
“It [ECP] should have sorted out the jurisdiction matter first,” he argued, stating the the electoral body could authorize one of its officers to file a complaint but the ECP secretary had asked the district election commissioner to file it. He also argued that the ECP did not seek permission before filing a complaint, which ECP’s Pervaiz rebutted as factually incorrect. However, Khosa maintained that it was unlawful for the permission to be given by the commission’s secretary.
Khosa further argued that the petition could not have been sent directly to a trial court and needed to be sent to a magistrate first. “The sessions court cannot hear the complaint directly,” he said, adding that the petitioner’s constitutional rights were violated, as he was not allowed to present witnesses in his defense.
The matter was set to be wrapped up today, but the hearing was adjourned till Friday after lengthy arguments by Khosa, leaving little time for Pervaiz to present his case. The ECP’s lawyer would now argue his stance when the hearing resumes tomorrow (Friday).
Separately, the Supreme Court similarly adjourned till next week—according to court officials—a plea filed by Khan against the IHC’s refusal to transfer his case to a different trial court. A day earlier, a three-member bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial had observed that the trial court had issued the Toshakhana verdict in haste, adding there were “defects” in the conviction. However, the CJP remarked that the Supreme Court would not intervene until the high court decision was issued.
During Thursday’s hearing, the apex court said it did not wish for a duplication of orders in the same case, and assured Khosa that his concerns with not being heard by the IHC were clearly being addressed. The court initially took a short break to wait on the IHC’s verdict but subsequently adjourned proceedings as the latter’s proceedings continued beyond a 2 p.m. deadline. The CJP also said that the court would issue an order seeking an explanation of the facilities provided to Khan at Attock Jail, where he is serving out his three-year prison term.