CJP hints at shortcomings in trial court’s Toshakhana judgment
Supreme Court asks IHC to hear PTI chief’s appeal in morning and it will wait for its order and conduct hearing at 1pm tomorrow: Justice Bandial says court jurisdiction can be challenged even after the verdict: Disagrees with ECP lawyer’s claim Imran Khan was given ample chance to defend himself: Observes trial court decided Toshakhana case in haste
By News Desk
August 23, 2023 02:51 PM
Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial has remarked prima facie it appears there are shortcomings in the trial court’s decision in the Toshakhana case in which Additional Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar had convicted and sentenced the former prime minister for three years, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial expressed these observations during the hearing of PTI Chairman’s petition against the Aug 3 Islamabad High Court order of remanding the Toshakhana case to Additional Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar who handed down jail term to Imran Khan in the case.
The Chief Justice sent the case to the Islamabad High Court, directing it to hear it in the morning.
The CJP remarked, “Prima facie, there seem shortcomings in the trial court’s judgement… Today, we will not interfere. Tomorrow, the Islamabad High Court will hear this case. We will see what happens in the IHC hearing, then we will conduct the case proceedings at 1 pm in the Supreme Court.”
Saying this, the court adjourned the case till 1pm tomorrow.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Bandial and comprising Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel heard the case on Wednesday.
PTI chairman’s lawyer Latif Khosa appeared in the court and presented his arguments.
The lawyer said that six MNAs sent the reference against the PTI chairman in which they accused the latter of submitting a false declaration. Then the lawmakers sent this reference to the speaker who forwarded this reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Khosa said that Imran Khan got elected from the Mianwali National Assembly seat in 2018 elections. According to the ECP Act, every member is supposed to submit details of his and his family members’ properties till Dec 31 of every year.
He said as per the law, the ECP could take action against the provider of wrongful information within 120 days.
To Justice Naqvi’s query whether a member of the National Assembly could send a reference against his fellow lawmaker, Advocate Khosa replied that no lawmaker could send a reference against his fellow MNA and the ECP itself could take action only within a stipulated period of time.
Justice Mandokhel remarked that the current case is not about whether the reference could be sent against the PTI chairman, rather you (PTI lawyer) have come to the court against the Islamabad High Court decision.
The judge inquired since the Toshakhana main case has been decided, has the PTI chief challenged it.
Chief Justice Bandial remarked that the PTI chief has challenged the jurisdiction of court in the case. “Now you yourself are saying that the case is sub judice in another court.
Justice Mandokhel inquired from the PTI lawyer if the SC hears this case, would it not affect the decision of the main case. If the SC accepts your appeal, still then the trial court has announced its decision. Where this case would go the, the judge asked.
Justice Naqvi remarked that the PTI chairman has not challenged the legal position of the case.
Khosa said that they also have challenged the legal position of the case.
Justice Mandokhel observed that the PTI chief’s petition challenges the decision of the Islamabad High Court, it does not challenge the legal position of the complaint. He asked since the trial court has completed the case then where the case could be remanded now.
Khosa said that the court should reverse the hands of the clock at the earlier position.
Court jurisdiction can be challenged even after Toshakhana case verdict
He said when the SC remanded the Toshakhana case to the Islamabad High Court, the IHC sent the case back to sessions court judge Hamayun Dilawar.
The CJP asked the PTI chairman’s lawyer whether he wanted the court to direct order on all points or the court should give instructions.
The top judge remarked that the authority of court could be challenged even after the verdict of Toshakhana case.
The CJP asked the lawyer whether he has challenged the August 5 decision of the Toshakhana case.
Khosa said that petitions against the Toshakhana verdict are under trial in the high courts.
Chief Justice Bandial asked the lawyer on which grounds the SC could review the Toshakhana case.
The lawyer said that two times the apex court had sent the case to the IHC which only had made a joke with the PTI chairman.
CJP tells off ECP lawyer
During hearing, the CJP got angry with the Election Commission of Pakistan’s lawyer who said that the PTI chairman does have the opportunities to get justice.
The Chief Justice chided the ECP lawyer, wondering where the PTI chairman is and what opportunities he was given to defend himself.
The top judge remarked that after holding only three trials of the case, the sessions court judge convicted the accused and sentenced him to jail.
He asked the ECP lawyer how many days were granted to the accused by the trial court to defend himself, ‘or the court conducted 3-4 hearings of the case in a day and announced its decision?’
On August 5, a trial court in Islamabad found the PTI chief guilty of “corrupt practices” in a case pertaining to concealing details of state gifts and sentenced him to three years in prison. The verdict also means that he stood disqualified from contesting general elections for five years.
‘Trial court decided Toshakhana case in haste’
The CJP remarked that the high court had directed the trial court to decide the case in 7 days while the sessions court announced the verdict in just one day.
“The trial court decided the Toshakhana case in haste,” the top judge observed.
Reporter Amanat Gishkori