A sessions court in the federal capital Tuesday approved Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and former prime minister Imran Khan's request for exemption from a court appearance in the Toshakhana reference case.
Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal pronounced the verdict reserved earlier in the day after the PTI chief filed a fresh petition seeking exemption from personal appearance.
Accepting the plea, the judge directed the legal team of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to provide attested copies of the evidence and complaint. A new date for the framing of charges will be announced later.
The reference was filed by the ECP in November last year, praying the court to proceed against the PTI chief under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as prime minister.
The ECP had requested that the PTI chief be convicted for the offences mentioned under sections 167 (corrupt practice) and 173 (making or publishing a false statement or declaration) of the Elections Act 2017.
It added that as per the record, the state gifts were purchased from the Toshakhana for Rs21.5 million on the basis of their assessed value, while they were valued at around Rs108 million.
On January 31, the judge had directed the PTI chairman to submit surety bonds of Rs20,000 to ensure his appearance today for indictment in the case.
At the outset of today's hearing, the PTI's legal team filed a petition on behalf of Imran Khan seeking exemption from personal appearance citing health reasons.
The PTI chairman is recuperating from wounds he sustained in a gun attack on November 3 during a rally.
The judge asked the PTI lawyer about the surety bonds. To this, he informed the court that they had submitted the bonds a day earlier.
"How can we frame charges if exemption pleas are filed again and again?" the judge asked.
Imran Khan's lawyer, Barrister Ali Zafar, argued that they had not been provided attested copies of the evidence and complaint.
At this, ECP's lawyer said that they had provided the said documents in front of the court. However, the judge directed the lawyer to ensure that all the required material is provided to the defence.
During the proceedings, the ECP lawyer asked, "Why did Imran Khan not appear before the court?"
"We have seen him dancing on the container."
At this, Zafar warned the ECP representative from making such statements.
He also requested the court to fix any date after February 15 for an appearance.
"Give us a date when Imran Khan will appear" the judge inquired.
"He will come if he is able to," the counsel responded.