PTI chief Imran Khan filed a plea in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday, challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to disqualify him over what the electoral watchdog cited as his failure to properly account for monetary proceeds from the sale of Toshakhana gifts while he was the prime minister.
The matter will be taken up by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday (tomorrow).
The Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.
A reference alleging that Imran had not shared details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana and proceeds from their reported sales was filed by lawmakers from the ruling coalition in August, and the ECP concluded on Friday that the former premier had indeed made “false statement and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts — a ruling that prompted widespread protests by the PTI.
The watchdog’s order said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.
Imran’s lawyer, Barrister Ali Zafar, filed on his behalf a writ petition in the IHC, praying that the order be declared “against the settled principles of law” on Article 63.
The plea urged the court to declare the ECP’s order “misconceived” and set it aside.
Imran also sought a court declaration stating that the ECP lacked the jurisdiction to decide “any questions of ‘corrupt practices and disqualification'” under the Election Act and Election Rules, 2017.
Moreover, his plea read: “Declare that the [disqualification] reference itself is incompetent, illegal, unlawful and without lawful authority, mala fide and devoid of force and in the circumstances of the instant case, declare it null and void in the interest of justice.”
In the meanwhile, the plea added, the court may kindly suspend the operation of the ECP’s order and restrain further proceedings by the ECP or its behest till its disposal.
The ECP, the National Assembly (NA) speaker, the NA secretary and multiple members of the lower house of parliament have been nominated as respondents in the plea.
Along with this plea, Barrister Zafar also submitted an application seeking the hearing of the case today. However, the court rejected his plea and scheduled the hearing for October 24.
Later, Barrister Zafar confirmed that the plea had been fixed for Monday and expressed the hope that the ECP’s decision would be overturned.