The Islamabad High Court (IHC) gave the observation on Wednesday that the Toshakhana gifts taken home by individuals be taken back, stating that there should not be the policy of retaining these gifts on the payment of a certain percentage of money.
During hearing of two petitions, one by a citizen seeking implementation of the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) order and the other by the Cabinet Division challenging that order, IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb also observed that details of the gifts received by former prime minister Imran Khan be released.
“The gifts given to the government of Pakistan go to the office. These gifts are not meant to be taken home,” the judge noted. “People come and go but the Prime Minister's Office remains. It should not have been the policy of taking a gift home by paying a certain percentage of money,” he added.
“Making such a policy means selling the gifts. If someone has taken gifts from abroad home, take them back,” Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb observed, directing that if there was no restraining order on disclosure of the information, the Establishment Division should release the information.
Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb noted that the gifts given by Pakistan could be viewed on Google even today. He added that even the gifts given away in the last 20 years could be viewed in the same way and that where were they kept.
Deputy Attorney General Arshad Mehmood Kiani sought time for the reply in the wake of the formation of the new government. Directing the government to comply with the PIC order of January 27, 2021, the judge said that if there was a requirement of interpretation of the Constitution, the court would do it.
Kayani said that the Establishment Division was in touch with the new government and would inform about any instructions. The IHC ordered that the PIC directive to publicise details of gifts given to former prime minister Imran be implemented.
The Toshakhana case hit the headlines last year, after the PIC accepted an application on the matter and directed the Cabinet Division to provide the information about the gifts received by then prime minister Imran Khan from foreign dignitaries.
However, the Cabinet Division challenged the PIC order in the IHC, claiming that it was "illegal". The then government took the position that the disclosure of any information related to Toshakhana might jeopardise Pakistan’s international relations.
Justice Aurangzeb said that if the “information commission ordered that the information be provided to the citizen [also a petitioner in the case] then do it”, adding that “if someone had taken the gifts to their home, take them back”.
Earlier this week, former prime minister Imran, while responding to the Toshakana controversy during an informal media chat, said that those were his gifts, so it was his choice whether or not he kept them. "Mera Tohfa, Meri Marzi [my gift, my choice]," Imran said.
(WITH INPUT FROM NEWS DESK)
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