Toshakhana Case: SC Notes 'Flaws' In Trial Court Judgement But Will Wait For IHC To Hear Appeal

Three-member bench observes Imran Khan was not even heard by trial court, afforded no opportunity for defence

Toshakhana Case: SC Notes 'Flaws' In Trial Court Judgement But Will Wait For IHC To Hear Appeal

Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial on Wednesday observed that a trial court's judgment of August 5, wherein Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was convicted and imprisoned in the Toshkhana case, has shortcomings and was decided hastily.

The observation by the CJP came a day before the hearing of the main appeals against Imran Khan's conviction in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Bandial and comprising Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Jamal Mandokhail, took up the petition filed by Imran Khan on August 23, where the jurisdiction of the trial court and maintainability of the ECP's complaint in the Toshakhana case were challenged. 

The top court will take up the matter again at 2 pm on August 24 after the hearing on the same matter in the IHC. 

Supreme Court hearing

During the hearing, Justice Jamal Mandokhail said the matter could be solved during the IHC hearing on Imran Khan's petition against his conviction.

However, Justice Mandokhail agreed that neither was Imran Khan afforded the opportunity to defend himself nor were his defence witnesses were examined while the trial court decided the matter and sentenced him to three years in prison. 

CJP Bandial said there were 'flaws' in the August 5 judgment of Judge Humayun Dilawar. He observed that the legal points, including jurisdiction, maintainability, and compliance with due process of law, are serious points and deserve the consideration of this court. Therefore, he said, out of respect, this court will wait for the decision issued by the Islamabad High Court. 

The CJP expressed anger when ECP's counsel Amjad Pervez told the court that Imran was provided all the chances to defend himself during case proceedings.

"What opportunities were given to the PTI chief? The trial court, after calling the case thrice, convicted the suspect and sent him to jail … the PTI chairman was not even heard," CJP Bandial observed.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, through his counsel Sardar Latif Khosa, had approached the SC on August 23, requesting the court to transfer his appeals against his convictions in the Toshakhana case and all other cases from the IHC to the high courts in Peshawar or Lahore. 

Senior Journalist and anchorperson Matiullah Jan told The Friday Times that the filing of such a petition is the result of deep politicisation of Pakistan's superior courts in the past ten years or so. 

He said that the institution with physical power has destroyed the credibility of constitutional organs that carry legal and moral authority.

Imran Khan's petition

In the eight-page petition filed under Article 186-A and Article 187, the petitioner attempted to establish the bias held by Chief Justice IHC Amir Farooq against him. 

Imrans petition, instituted through Advocate Khawaja Haris Ahmed, states that more than sufficient incontrovertible evidence is available to establish the deep and settled bias of the chief justice of the IHC towards the petitioner. 

"It is evident that the CJ IHC is endeavouring to do everything to keep petitioner (Imran Khan) behind bars with the intent that he is unable to contest the forthcoming general elections in the country and thus be ousted from the politics of Pakistan," stated the petition. 

"In seeking the conviction of the Petitioner (Imran Khan), the CJ IHC found a ready and willing instrument in Mr. Humayun Dilawar, learned Additional Sessions Judge, Islamabad," the petition further notes.

The petitioner alleged that CJ IHC handsomely rewarded the Additional Sessions Judge after their common project had been achieved through the illegal conviction.

To substantiate his claim, the petition highlighted the judgment in the Tyrian Jade White case, where CJ IHC headed the three-judge bench. It stated that the CJ IHC "not only refused to announce the judgment but even directed the majority judgment in the case favouring the petitioner be removed from the Hon'ble High Court website. This is a unique case of defiance of the majority opinion based on the simple hatred towards one party…" and "Hon'ble CJ IHC purported to convert his minority status into a majority and thereby abused his position as the CJ of the IHC". 

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain