Islamabad: In a temporary relief for Imran Khan, Islamabad high court on Friday set aside the verdict of a lower court and asked it to rehear a corruption case in which the embattled former prime minister is accused of profiting from selling expensive state gifts when he was in power.
The court ruling came ahead of general elections in Pakistan which Khan hopes to win. The term of the National Assembly will end on August 12 and the current government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is expected to dissolve the lower house on August 9.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday had reserved judgment on multiple petitions by 70-year-old Khan, the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party against his trial by a district court in the case of illegal sale of state gifts from the Toshakhana.
The Toshakhana issue over the sale of state gifts received by the former cricketer-turned-politician became a major issue in national politics after the ECP disqualified Khan on October 21, 2022, for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.
The Toshakhana is a department under the Cabinet Division that stores gifts given to rulers and government officials by heads of other governments and foreign dignitaries. Khan bought some of the gifts, including a precious watch, and sold the same for profit.
Announcing the judgement, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq also ordered the session court to decide the matter of maintainability again after a fresh hearing of the case.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar is hearing the Toshakhana case.
A sessions court in Islamabad last month declared that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) case against Khan was maintainable, which was challenged in the IHC.
However, the IHC rejected Khan’s appeal to transfer the case to another court. It also issued a notice for next week on the appeal to restore the right of defence. Khan had filed a petition on Thursday seeking the right to defence in the case.
The case is based on a criminal complaint filed by the ECP that Khan had “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana. Earlier, the ECP disqualified Khan for hiding the proceeds of the sale.
Khan was authorised to carry out the sale but failed to inform the ECP about the money he made.
A session court in Islamabad last month declared that the ECP case against Khan was maintainable, which was challenged in the IHC.
Khan is facing more than 140 cases across the country and faces charges like terrorism, violence, blasphemy, corruption and murder.