ISLAMABAD: A local court has adjourned the hearing of a Toshakhana reference against PTI chief Imran Khan till December 8 after recording a district election commissioner’s statement.
Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal conducted hearing while District Election Commissioner Waqas Malik submitted his statement. The proceedings were initiated on the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) complaint after the electoral watchdog found him guilty of “false statements and incorrect declaration” in his election papers.
Imran was expected at the court today as the summons for his appearance was issued during the previous hearing, which marked the beginning of a criminal trial against the former prime minister for concealing information about the Toshakhana gifts. During the hearing, the district election commissioner said that he had been authorized to pursue the case. He added that the ECP was an independent institution that functioned under the Constitution and ensured that corrupt practices were curtailed.
Malik further said that members of the National Assembly submitted their returns to the ECP annually. Imran, too, submitted his returns from 2018 to 2021, he added. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till December 8.
Earlier, the court summoned Imran after the ECP found Imran had made “false statements and incorrect declaration” in his election papers and disqualified him. Last week, the ECP had sent the reference to the court, asking it to proceed against Imran under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as the prime minister. The commission seeks a three-year jail term and imposition of fine as the punishment.
The complainant in the reference is the Islamabad deputy election commissioner. The reference stated that Imran had “deliberately concealed his assets relating to Toshakhna gifts retained by him particularly in year 2018 and 2019… in the statements of assets and liabilities filed for the year 2017-201 8 and 2018-19”. It further said that as per the record, the gifts were purchased from the Toshakhana for Rs21.5 million on the basis of their assessed value, while they were valued at around Rs108m.
The ECP wanted the PTI chief to be convicted for the offences mentioned under sections 167 (corrupt practice) and 173 (making or publishing a false statement or declaration) of the Elections Act 2017. The reference was filed in August against Imran by the coalition government, for “not sharing details” of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale. Lawmakers from the Pakistan Democratic Movement — the ruling alliance — had submitted the reference to NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who had subsequently forwarded it to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja for further action.