Investigation into Toshakhana Ruling Under Scrutiny

Web DeskAugust 24, 2023

Legal experts in Pakistan have raised significant concerns regarding the handling of the Toshakhana case by the trial court, highlighting the disregard for due process and the potential erosion of democratic values through such actions.

While these legal experts have abstained from commenting on the specific details of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s conviction, their focus has centered on the procedural shortcomings evident in the court proceedings and the far-reaching implications they entail.

They have criticized what they perceive as a hurried and compromised decision by the court, drawing parallels with prior allegations put forth by Imran Khan’s legal team concerning the hastiness of the proceedings in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Abdul Moiz Jaferii, a practicing advocate, has pointed out flaws in the procedures of the trial court, notably remarking that its actions run counter to the directives of the IHC. The IHC had explicitly instructed the trial court to meticulously examine the merits of Khan’s applications. However, instead of adhering to this directive, the trial court based its conclusions on Khan’s absence as an indication that he had been afforded a chance to present his case.

Also Read: PM Shehbaz Sharif to Auction Toshakhana Gifts

Jaferii has suggested that in instances where the accused avoids the court’s jurisdiction, measures such as summoning them through law enforcement should have been pursued. If these methods proved inadequate, it would have been appropriate to declare the accused a proclaimed offender. Jaferii has criticized the decision to render a verdict on the merits of the case in absentia.

Salahuddin Ahmed, a lawyer based in Karachi, has drawn comparisons between the swift proceedings in Nawaz Sharif’s trial prior to the 2018 elections and the expeditious pace witnessed in Imran Khan’s trial. Ahmed has expressed concerns that the pursuit of due process might have been compromised to achieve a preordained outcome.

Faisal Siddiqi, an activist lawyer, has viewed the judgement as emblematic of the erosion of political justice in Pakistan. He attributes the judgement to revenge politics and political manipulation, urging the higher judiciary to initiate an investigation into the judge responsible for tarnishing the reputation of the judicial system.

Tariq Mahmood Khokhar, a former additional attorney general, has highlighted apprehensions about potential judicial bias or even an appearance of bias throughout Imran Khan’s trial. Khokhar has indicated that such circumstances would be grounds for a judge to recuse themselves from a case. He has emphasized that procedural due process, encompassing not only the final decision but also the process leading to it, must be upheld.

Usama Khawar, a lawyer and professor, has maintained that an exclusive focus on these decisions through a legal lens would be incomplete. He asserts that these cases are inherently political, reflecting efforts to control democratic processes.

Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar, a Supreme Court advocate, has underscored the significance of presenting all arguments before the trial court, particularly in instances where higher courts have not suspended the proceedings. He has criticized the delivery of the judgement without adhering to the IHC’s instructions on maintainability.

The Supreme Court Bar Association has also voiced reservations about the legality of the judgement, contending that it flagrantly violates the Islamabad High Court’s order. The Association has lamented that the trial court’s haste and lack of due process undermine fundamental rights and the principles of fairness and justice.

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