A two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday adjourned till Monday its hearing into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s appeal against his three-year imprisonment in the Toshakhana case over the non-appearance of the prosecution’s lawyer.
A day earlier, the case had proceeded to its final stages with Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s advocate Amjad Pervaiz expected to conclude his arguments. However, he did not appear because of an illness requiring “complete bedrest,” with a member of his team seeking an adjournment to allow him time to recover. Subsequently, the IHC bench adjourned the hearing until Aug. 28 (Monday) after Chief Justice Aamer Farooq—who is heading the bench—observed that it would have been “better” for Pervaiz to appear, as the bench had specifically convened today to wrap up the present case.
A trial court on Aug. 5 found the PTI chief guilty of “corrupt practices” in the Toshakhana case, and sentenced to three years in jail, as well as a fine of Rs. 100,000. The conviction in a criminal case also disqualified him from holding public office for five years. Khan’s legal team subsequently filed an appeal in the IHC against the conviction, arguing that he had not been granted his due right to defense.
During proceedings on Thursday, the PTI chief’s counsel, Latif Khosa, had argued before an IHC division bench that Khan should be released because he was serving a “short” sentence; the verdict had jurisdictional defects; and the ECP had improperly authorized the filing of the case against the PTI chief. In three hours, Khosa as well as other members of Khan’s team had completed their arguments. Initiating his arguments, the ECP’s lawyer had said a sentence could only be suspended if a prisoner had completed at least six months’ imprisonment. He had also requested more time to offer more arguments, claiming Khosa had introduced arguments that merited counters.
At the same time, the Supreme Court—which is hearing a case filed by Khan against the IHC’s refusal to transfer the Toshakhana case to a different trial court—had said it would not issue any verdict on the plea until the IHC had completed its proceedings. It had also ordered the attorney general for Pakistan to submit a report, by Aug. 28, on the facilities provided to Khan in prison.