A Pakistani court in Islamabad on Monday (March 6) rejected former prime minister Imran Khan‘s plea seeking the suspension of the non-bailable warrant issued against him in the Toshakhana case.
Additional Session judge Zafar Iqbal, who had earlier in the day reserved the verdict, announced it later in the day after a brief hearing of the case.
Earlier, Khan’s lawyers Ali Bukhari, Qaiser Imam and Gohar Ali Khan appeared before the district and sessions court where Bukhari contended that his client has always followed court orders.
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Qaiser Imam argued that the Islamabad police could not arrest the 70-year-old Khan if he was willing to appear before the court on March 7.
The judge remarked that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief could have approached the Islamabad High Court to suspend the warrant.
But Qaiser Imam told the judge that they wanted the sessions court to suspend the warrant. Bukhari added that the PTI chief was at his Lahore residence.
Urging the court to suspend the warrant, the lawyers argued that a private complaint was registered against the PTI chief under the Election Act 2017 and usually arrest warrants were not issued on a private complaint.
The judge, remarking that the PTI chief’s lawyer had informed him that their client would not appear in court, reserved the verdict on the petition.
On February 28, Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against the cricketer-turned-politician for continuously failing to appear before the court in the Toshakhana case.
Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as prime minister, at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.
In his assets’ declarations, he is accused of concealing details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana, where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept.
Officials are legally allowed to retain gifts provided they pay a pre-assessed amount, typically a fraction of the value of the gift.
The PTI chief approached the Lahore High Court on Sunday for post-arrest bail after an Islamabad police team arrived at his Zaman Park residence to arrest him for skipping proceedings in the case.
The Dawn newspaper said the Lahore High Court registrar had raised objections to Khan’s plea, saying that complete documents had not been submitted along with the petitions.
Khan has not attended any hearings since November last year when he was injured in an assassination attempt at his rally in the Wazirabad area of Punjab.
He was granted interim bail by a special court in Islamabad after being shot during the assassination attempt. He has since received extensions on his bail due to medical reasons.
Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
(With agency inputs)