Imran Khan again skips Toshakhana case hearing despite issuance of arrest warrants
Sessions court adjourns the hearing till 2pm today
ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan again failed to appear before a court in the federal capital to attend the hearing in the Toskhakhana case.
The former prime minister has thrice skipped indictment hearings in the district and sessions court in the case initiated at the request of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for concealing the details of gifts he retained from the Toshakhana while in the power.
Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal was set to frame charges against him on Feb 28, but his lawyer sought exemption from the hearing as he had to appear before other courts in the capital city. The judge had then issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the PTI chief and adjourned the hearing till March 7.
At the outset of the hearing, the junior lawyer of the PTI chief, Sardar Masroof Khan, sought time till 10pm for the appearance of the senior legal team. When the judge asked if Mr Khan would attend the hearing, he replied he was unaware of it. The judge also inquired about the appearance of the guarantor in Imran Khan’s bail, saying the guarantor was responsible to ensure presence of the PTI chief in the case. The PTI lawyer said a notice could not be issued to the guarantor until the completion of the process.
Here, the ECP lawyer said Imran Khan’s lawyer should have informed the court about the appearance of Mr Khan in the morning to save time of the court. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till 10am. Prosecution’s Mohsin Shahnawaz and ECP ’s counsel Saad Hasan were also in attendance.
When the judge resumed hearing, another PTI lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat represented informed the court that the senior legal team was in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), adding that he would submit his power of attorney in court within a day or two. Later, he asked the court to adjourn the case till next week.
At which, Judge Zafar Iqbal said the proceedings regarding summons of Imran Khan were under way. Marwat replied that his client was not feeling well.
The ECP counsel pleaded the court to issue a notice to the guarantor of the PTI chief and cancel his surety. He also sought adjournment of the case till March 9.
The PTI lawyer said Mr Khan had to appear before the high court on March 9 at any cost, adding that he had been informed that it would be easier for Imran to appear in F-8 katcheri next week.
At this point, the judge remarked that it appeared that the PTI chairman would not appear before him on March 9. He said Imran Khan was ready to appear before other courts but not in the sessions court.
Later, he adjourned the hearing till 2pm.
Sources said the PTI chief on Monday decided not to appear in the Toshakhana case before the court due to security concerns. The legal team had apprised Mr Khan of the legal aspects in this regard as well.
The legal team will file the petition on Tuesday in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for protective bail and the decision of the additional session judge will also be challenged. The lawyers will seek permission to present Mr Khan before the court via video link.
On Monday, the sessions court rejected PTI Chairman Imran Khan's plea seeking annulment of the non-bailable arrest warrants issued against him for his failure to appear before the court in the Toshakhana case. The court had, hours earlier, reserved the verdict on the plea filed by Mr Khan’s lawyers Qaisar Imam, Barrister Gohar and Ali Bukhari.
Mr Imam had demanded the annulment of the warrants, arguing that the law barred the issuance of arrest warrants to some extent if the plea was filed as a private complaint. Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal remarked that Mr Khan's lawyers had apprised the court the day the warrants were issued that their client would not appear before the court.
On Sunday, the capital police reached Mr Khan’s residence in Zaman Park on Sunday to arrest him but he reportedly “dodged” them. A few hours later, Mr Khan, while addressing the party workers, demanded a public hearing of the case.