In a relief to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in the Toshakhana case, the Islamabad High Court on Saturday declared the notices issued by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as illegal, reported Geo News.
A two-member bench of IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Babar Sattar took up the plea filed by the ousted premier and his wife and issued the verdict, declaring the notices illegal.
In its verdict, the IHC bench maintained that the NAB holds the right in taking a certain position as the petitioners did not appear in response to the notices. It however ruled that notices were not in conformity with the law, reported Geo News.
The latest victory for the former prime minister came during the hearing of his and Bushra Bibi’s pleas challenging the call-up notices issued on February 17 and March 16, by the anti-graft watchdog.
The petitions filed under Section 19 of the National Accountability (second amendment) Act 2022, moved the court to declare the NAB call-up notices illegal, as well as the disciplinary action against the petitioners based on the call-up notices, reported Geo News.
IHC CJ also maintained that the anti-graft watchdog shall be at liberty to issue fresh notices to Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi in line with the court’s observations.
It is pertinent to note that the Toshakhana issue became a central sticking point in the country’s politics after the Election Commission of Pakistan disqualified the PTI chief for making “false statements and incorrect declaration” last month.
The judgement added that the former premier was found to have indulged in corrupt practices under sections 167 and 173 of the constitution. A criminal proceeding was initiated against him over allegedly filing a false statement.
The NAB action comes after Dubai-based businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor claimed that the PTI government sold an expensive Graff wristwatch, gifted to former premier Imran Khan by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, for USD 2 million, worth approximately PKR 280 million at the time of sale in 2019.
Under the rules governing “Toshakhana” -a Persian word meaning “treasure house” – government officials can keep gifts if they have a low worth, while they must pay a reduced fee to the government for extravagant items, The News International reported.
The Toshakhana is under a microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that the PTI chairman bought the gifts he received as the country’s prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for profits.