LHC seeks details of foreign sources in Toshakhana case

The Lahore High Court (LHC) directed the cabinet secretary on Thursday to produce details of foreign sources who gave gifts as well as the Toshakhana (gift depository) record prior to 2002 by March 13

The instructions were passed by the court as it resumed hearing a petition seeking details of dignitaries, bureaucracy and officials who had obtained gifts from Toshakhana since 1947

The Additional Attorney General (AAG) informed the court that the cabinet declassified the record of Toshakhana from 2002 till today and it will be published on the website

Justice Asim Hafeez questioned if the depository did not have records prior to 2002

To this, the lawyer representing the federation responded that the record before 2002 was not computerized

However, the AAG informed the court that details regarding gifts since 2002 would be shared

On the high court’s query, the additional attorney general told the court that the record of those who gave the gifts will not be shared

Justice Hafeez remarked that this record should also be produced before him in his chamber by the next date

The federal lawyer also produced the cabinet’s decision before the court

“Things are not changed overnight

It is good if the decision has been taken to declassify the record, it means things are progressing,” the judge remarked

Petitioner’s counsel Advocate Azhar Siddique objected and argued that the federal government should have produced all records required in the petition

Earlier proceedings Earlier, Justice Hafeez refused to unseal the record submitted by the federal government by February 22 terming it “classified”

The federal government’s representative told the court that it is now the desecration of the court whether it wanted to unseal it

Read LHC gives 'last opportunity' to Toshakhana head for submitting affidavit To this, Justice Hafeez remarked, “the court will not open this sealed record until the affidavit of the department’s head is submitted before the court”

Reluctance It is worth mentioning that in previous proceedings, the federal government had shown reluctance in submitting Toshakhana details before the court claiming that the disclosure of such details may damage the interests of Pakistan and its international relations

The court was updated by the cabinet division by submitting a report that a new policy on Toshakhana was being formulated adding this one will be more fair and transparent

Petition Advocate Siddique implored in the petition that the Islamabad High Court on April 20, 2022, directed the cabinet to disclose all information and specifications in relation to all the gifts received by former prime minister Imran Khan during his tenure

Following this order, the petitioner sought information about all the gifts bought/withdrawn/taken away by the prime ministers and presidents of Pakistan from 1947 till date

Additionally, the petitioner also legitimately sought information with respect to the market value of the gift (prevalent at that time), the assessed value of the gift and the amount paid by the receivers (presidents and prime ministers) of the gifts from 1947 till date

The petitioner believed that this exercise would ensure that the citizens had complete access to the entire record of Toshakhana which would aid in the process of fairness, accountability and transparency

Date:24-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link