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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

ECP to announce verdict in Toshakhana reference against Imran tomorrow

On Friday 2pm, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will announce verdict regarding the Toshakhana disqualification case brought against former prime minister Imran Khan.

On Friday 2pm, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will announce a verdict regarding the Toshakhana disqualification case brought against former prime minister Imran Khan.

All relevant parties are required to appear before the election watchdog at its secretariat in Islamabad, according to a notification released today by ECP.

In order to “prevent any untoward occurrence,” the ECP also wrote to the Islamabad police demanding “foolproof protection” both inside and outside the watchdog’s premises for the whole day. A traffic warden and two security officers in civil attire were also asked in the letter.

The ECP emphasised that all security measures must be put in place, especially within the ECP Secretariat building, and that the situation is viewed as “most urgent.”

On September 19, the ECP had reserved its decision in the Toshakhana case.

The coalition government filed the case against the PTI chairman for “not providing information” of Toshakhana gifts and money received from their purported sale.

The Toshakhana was established in 1974 and is a department under the administrative jurisdiction of the Cabinet Division. It houses priceless presents that foreign dignitaries and heads of other countries and nations have presented to monarchs, lawmakers, bureaucrats, and officials.

Read More: ECP adjourns hearing of Toshakhana reference against Imran Khan

Gifts/presents and other similar items received by those to whom these rules apply must be reported to the Cabinet Division, per Toshakhana regulations.

Despite the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) ordering it to do so, the PTI has resisted disclosing information on the gifts sent to Imran Khan since he took office in 2018, claiming that doing so would jeopardise relations with other countries.

In response to the PTI chief’s reluctance to disclose the specifics of the Toshakhana gifts, lawmakers from the Pakistan Democratic Movement, a partner in the ruling coalition, filed a reference on August 4 asking that he be disqualified from holding public office under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

They gave the National Assembly speaker the referral, who then gave it to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja for further action.

Imran was asked to submit a written response by September 8 during the ECP’s hearing on August 29. The PTI leader acknowledged selling at least four gifts that he got while serving as Pakistan’s prime minister in his response.

In response, the former premier said that the presents he bought from the state treasury for Rs21.56 million sold for roughly Rs58 million. The other three gifts each contained a Rolex watch, while one gift had a Graff wristwatch, a pair of cufflinks, an expensive pen, and a ring.

The Reference

The reference against Imran was submitted to CEC Raja by MNA Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha with the support of lawmakers Agha Hassan Baloch, Salahudeen Ayubi, Ali Gohar Khan, Syed Rafiullah Agha, and Saad Waseem Sheikh.

Imran is likely to be disqualified in the reference, according to the governing PML-N, since he allegedly failed to report the money he earned through the purported sale of state gifts in his assets.

Read More: Imran Khan’s Toshakhana gifts be made public: IHC

The ruling alliance’s MNAs requested the ex-premier’s disqualification under Sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f), in their disqualification reference, which contained documentary evidence to support their allegations against him.

Article 62(1)(f) says: “A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless […] he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law.”

Article 63(2) says: “If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within thirty days and should he fail to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission.”

While, Article 63(3) reads: “The Election Commission shall decide the question within ninety days from its receipt or deemed to have been received and if it is of the opinion that the member has become disqualified, he shall cease to be a member and his seat shall become vacant.”

The Case

An application from the journalist Rana Abrar Khalid of Islamabad was accepted by the PIC last year, and the Cabinet Division was instructed to “provide the requested information about the gifts received by Prime Minister Imran Khan from foreign head of states, head of governments, and other foreign dignitaries… description/specification of each gift, information about the gifts retained by the PM, and the Rules under which gifts thus received are retained by him.”

Within 10 working days, the Cabinet Division was instructed to disclose the necessary data and post it on the corporate website.

Read More: ECP delays local bodies elections in Karachi

The PIC ruling was then contested by the Cabinet Division in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), with the justification that it was “illegal, without lawful authority.” The then-government said that any information on Toshakhana should not be made public since it may harm relations with other countries.

The IHC had instructed Deputy Attorney General Arshad Kayani in April of this year to see that the PIC order to make public information on the gifts given to former Prime Minister Imran by heads of state after he took office in August 2018 was carried out.