IHC stays criminal proceedings against Imran in Toshakhana case

ISLAMABAD, May 12 : The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered a local court on Friday to stop indictment proceedings against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and former premier Imran Khan in the Toshakhana (gift repository) case.

Imran had filed a plea with the high court challenging the maintainability of criminal proceedings against him in the Toshakhana case, filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq presided over the hearing and issued the stay order, as well as notices to the ECP amongst other respondents.

The court has postponed the proceedings until next month, and issued notices to Imran on all four of his applications as well.

Notably, the applications had come as the PTI chief was indicted in the case two days ago. The trial court had summoned the witnesses on May 13.

The indictment hearing for the Toshakhana case had been held at the New Police Line Guest House after the hearing  for the Al-Qadir Trust case, in which the PTI chief was arrested from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on May 9.

Speaking to the media after the hearing of the case, Imran’s lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat had said that the former prime minister and lawyers had boycotted the indictment proceedings.

He had maintained that the court indicted the PTI chief despite his expressing a lack of confidence in the judge hearing the case.

It may be noted here that on May 5, additional sessions judge Humayun Dilawar had dismissed two petitions filed by the PTI chief challenging criminal proceedings against him in the Toshakhana case after hearing arguments from both sides.

During the proceedings at the IHC today, Imran’s lawyer Khawaja Haris argued that he ECP’s complaint is not admissible because no letter has been submitted by the electoral watchdog to appoint a competent authority.

“The ECP has only asked its office to file the complaint, and a complaint filed without the competent authority cannot be heard,” he said, adding that “complaints cannot be sent for criminal action after the prescribed time fo 120 days.”

The lawyer informed the court that the issue had been raised with the trial court as well, however, the judge had said that they will be addressed during the evidence stage of the proceedings.

“Our argument is that no further action can be taken on the complaint,” he stressed.

He further said that “we are objecting to whatever is on record. The matter of criminal proceedings should first go to the magistrate and then to the sessions court.”

“The complaint has to be first filed with the magistrate and then he has to record the opening statement and send it to the sessions court,” Imran’s lawyer said.

Upon hearing the arguments, CJ Farooq issued notices to concerned parties and postponed the proceedings until June 8.

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