Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday suspended Imran Khan’s three-year sentence in the Toshakhana corruption case and ordered his release from jail, in a major relief to Pakistan’s embattled former prime minister ahead of the upcoming general elections.
A division bench comprising Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri announced the much-anticipated verdict which was reserved on Monday.
“Decision of District Court (has been) suspended by IHC,” Khan’s party – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – said in a short WhatsApp message.
On August 5, a trial court in Islamabad convicted Khan, the 70-year-old chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, sentencing him to three years in prison.
The former cricketer and politician was sentenced for unlawfully selling state gifts acquired by him and his family during his term from 2018 to 2022. He has also been disqualified from politics for five years, barring him from contesting upcoming elections.
On Monday, the Islamabad High Court resumed the hearing on Khan’s plea challenging his conviction. The hearing had been adjourned on Friday after the lawyer representing the Election Commission of Pakistan failed to appear due to illness.
Earlier, the Supreme Court observed “shortcomings” in the trial court’s judgement after hearing various petitions against the Toshakhana case. The apex court mentioned that the verdict seemed rushed and didn’t adequately offer the right of defence to the accused.
The Supreme Court had also indicated that it would await the Islamabad High Court’s hearing before delivering its judgement. The apex court resumed the hearing on Thursday but adjourned without specifying a future date upon learning that the Islamabad High Court was hearing the matter.
The Toshakhana case was initiated in 2022 by ruling party lawmakers, who filed it in the Election Commission of Pakistan. They alleged that Khan had concealed the proceeds from selling state gifts.
Initially, the Election Commission disqualified Khan before initiating criminal proceedings in a sessions court, which ultimately led to his conviction and imprisonment.
Currently, Khan is incarcerated in Attock Jail after his arrest in Lahore.
The case alleges that Khan “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts stored in the Toshakhana — a repository for presents given to government officials by foreign dignitaries — during his tenure as Prime Minister from 2018 to 2022.
According to Toshakhana rules, any gifts or presents received must be reported to the Cabinet Division.
Reports indicate that Khan received 58 gifts valued at more than Rs 140 crore from global leaders during his three-and-a-half-year term. It is alleged that he retained all of these, either by making a nominal payment or without any payment.