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“Imran Khan’s Indictment Delayed Again in Toshakhana Reference: Trial to Continue Indefinitely?”

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The district and sessions court in Islamabad has deferred the indictment of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference for the second time, citing medical grounds. The judge, Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zafar Iqbal directed Imran to appear in court in person on February 28, 2023. The case pertains to allegations that Imran failed to provide details of gifts received from the Toshakhana, a department under the Cabinet Division that stores gifts given to rulers and government officials by foreign dignitaries, and the proceeds from their sale.

 

The reference was filed last year by lawmakers from the ruling coalition, and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) concluded on October 21, 2022, that Imran had made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts. The ECP’s order stated that Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution. Subsequently, the ECP approached the Islamabad sessions court seeking criminal proceedings against Imran for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received during his tenure as prime minister.

 

At the previous hearing, Imran’s lawyers filed an exemption plea for a personal appearance in court, which led to the postponement of his indictment. In today’s hearing, Imran’s lawyer filed another exemption request, stating that an x-ray of Imran Khan will be conducted on February 28, 2023. The court, however, pointed out that if Imran’s absence continued, the trial would never end. The ECP’s lawyer objected to the exemption request, stating that a medical certificate was not attached to the plea, and requested the formation of a medical board for Imran. The court then asked Imran’s lawyer to produce a medico-legal certificate of his client to learn about the extent of his injuries.

 

During the hearing, copies of the case records were distributed. ADSJ Iqbal said that according to the law, copies of the case are given to the accused in court, in their presence, and that Imran was summoned for the same reason. The judge also asked how the court could determine Imran’s health without a medico-legal certificate and suggested that a medical examination of Imran be conducted at PIMS hospital. The hearing was subsequently adjourned till February 28, 2023, with instructions for Imran’s lawyer to ensure the PTI chief’s presence at the next proceedings.

 

Imran has engaged a team of senior lawyers to contest the ECP’s complaint in the case, comprising Khawaja Haris Ahmed, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, and Advocate Ali Bukhari. However, the delay in Imran’s indictment has raised concerns about the length of the trial and the possibility of it dragging on indefinitely.

 

Imran Khan is currently recuperating after sustaining a gunshot wound during an assassination attempt at a rally on November 3, 2022. The Toshakhana case is one of several legal challenges facing the PTI chairman, including a defamation case filed by former Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Syed Khursheed Shah and a contempt of court case filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Imran has denied all the allegations against him and stated that they are politically motivated.

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