pakistan
Thursday Aug 18 2022
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Toshakana reference: Imran Khan not MNA, ECP cannot issue notice, says lawyer

The building of the Election Commission of Pakistan. — Twitter/File
The building of the Election Commission of Pakistan. — Twitter/File

  • Election Commission of Pakistan adjourns hearing till August 22.
  • ECP orders petitioners to share copy of reference with PTI lawyer.
  • Lawyer says Khan not an MNA; ECP disagrees, says he still is.


ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan is not a member of the National Assembly, therefore, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) cannot send a notice to him, the former prime minister's lawyer said Thursday.

Khan's lawyer, Barrister Gohar, gave the arguments during a hearing of the Toshakhana reference filed against the PTI chairman, which was heard by a five-member ECP bench.

ECP's full court, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and including Justice (retd) Nisar Durrani of Sindh, Justice (retd) Ikramullah of KP, Justice (retd) Shah Mohammad Jatoi of Balochistan, and former federal secretary Babar Bharwana, heard the  case.

The hearing took place after the ECP sent a notice to Khan on the reference filed for his disqualification by Ali Gohar Khan, Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha of the PML-N, and five others under Article 63.

Gohar, who is the subordinate of Barrister Ali Zafar, told the ECP that the PTI wants to see the reference filed by the petitioners — PML-N leader Mohsin Ranjha and others.

"Neither is Imran Khan a member of the National Assembly nor can [the election commission], send him a notice," the lawyer told the bench.

At this, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said that in the eyes of the election commission, the PTI chairman is still an MNA.

"Show us, which resignation did the deputy speaker send us?" the CEC asked, referring to en masse resignations of PTI MNAs submitted to the former NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri.

CEC Raja noted that the resignations that did get sent to the ECP were processed and MNAs were also de-notified.

Directing the petitioners to provide the reference to the PTI lawyers, the ECP adjourned the hearing till August 22.

Back in April, Prime Minister Shehbaz revealed that in "violation of the law", Khan sold Toshakhana gifts — comprising diamond jewellery sets, bracelets and wrist watches — worth Rs140m in Dubai.

ECP bound to give verdict in 30 days

According to former secretary ECP Kanwar Dilshad, the ECP is bound to give a verdict on the speaker’s reference within 30 days, followed by the filing of an appeal by the defendant within 30 days. Thereafter, the Supreme Court is bound to give a verdict within 90 days of the filing of the appeal under the Constitution.

Justice Mian Gul Aurangzeb of the Islamabad High Court, in a ruling, had stated that Toshakhana gifts given to a political personality or official by a foreign government must be deposited in the Toshakhana.

Dilshad added the ECP can seek a report from the Cabinet Division on the gifts of Toshakhana and can seek a record of the gifts mentioned in the reference.