Imran Khan moves Islamabad HC against conviction in Toshakhana case
Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan -- who is currently incarcerated in Attock Jail -- filed a plea in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) today, challenging his conviction in the Toshakhana case by a trial court.
On August 5, a trial court in Islamabad had sentenced Imran to three years in prison in the case. The verdict also disqualified Imran from contesting general elections.
"He [Imran] cheated while providing information about gifts he obtained from Toshakhana which later proved to be false and inaccurate. His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt," the 30-page court order said.
The police, already on standby in anticipation of a verdict in the hearing, swung into action minutes after Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar announced the judgment and arrested him from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
Today, Imran filed a petition in the IHC -- through his lawyers -- against the trial court's August 5 verdict, saying that the said order was "not sustainable" and "liable to be set aside".
The plea named the district election commissioner of Islamabad as the respondent in the case.
It stated that the judgment passed by the trial court judge was "tainted with bias, is a nullity in the eye of the law and is liable to be set aside".
Explaining the grounds for its request, the plea said that the Aug 5 order was passed "with the pre-disposed mind" of the trial court judge to convict and sentence the appellant "irrespective of the merits of the case".
It said the order was issued without providing the petitioner with a chance to fight his case and alleged that ADSJ Dilawar had refused to hear the arguments of Khawaja Haris, Imran's counsel in the Toshakhana case, on the pretext that he was late — which the plea claimed was because he was filing other applications with the Supreme Court and IHC.
"The impugned judgment was announced despite the fact that before commencement counsel for the appellant was very much in court fully prepared to address arguments after explaining the reasons for the delay in arriving in court, but the trial judge, who throughout the proceedings had been exhibiting his extreme bias towards the appellant and his counsel, and constantly using disparaging remarks against them, even in their absence, was bent on carrying out a well-orchestrated plan […]."
This, the petition said, was a "slap in the face due process and fair trial" and "a gross travesty of justice".
It further alleged that the August 5 judgment was "already written" by the trial court judge, highlighting how the latter only took "30 minutes" to "dictate more than 35 pages" of the judgment.
Moreover, the petition said the verdict was in violation of the IHC's Aug 4 orders, in which the high court had asked the trial court to "decide afresh" on the PTI chief's application pertaining to the maintainability of the Toshakhana case.
Referring to the Supreme Court rules, the plea highlighted that "proceedings held by the learned trial court judge culminating in the conviction of the appellant in the instant case are corum non judice without jurisdiction thereby rendering the conviction and sentence of appellant void ab initio nugatory in the eyes of the law".
It also highlighted that there was not an "iota" of evidence presented by the prosecution regarding the Toshakhana gifts and none of the witnesses provided by the ECP presented evidence in the case.
"The prosecution has not let any evidence whatsoever that the appellant had transferred any asset during any of the relevant financial years without adequate consideration or by revocable transfer."
The petition subsequently prayed that the trial court verdict be set aside, while also urging the court to declare Imran's conviction and sentence "illegal and without lawful authority", and to acquit him of the charges.