A writ petition was filed in Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday, seeking details of foreign gifts retained by dignitaries, bureaucrats and other officials including all prime ministers and presidents from Toshakhana (gift depository).
The petitioner requested the court to direct the quarters concerned to make public all details of the gifts including the method used to determine the market price of the gifts and how much money was deposited into the treasury.
Petitioner Munir Ahmed filed the application through senior advocate Azhar Siddique.
Advocate Siddique implored in the petition that Islamabad High Court (IHC) on April 20, 2022, directed the federal cabinet to disclose all information and specifications in relation to all the gifts received by Imran Khan during his tenure as the prime minister.
Following this order, the petitioner sought information about all the gifts bought/ withdrawn/ taken away by the prime ministers and presidents of Pakistan from 1947 till date.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 market value of the gift (prevalent at that time), assessed value of the gift and amount paid by the receivers (presidents and prime ministers) of the gifts from 1947 till date.
The counsel maintained that petitioner believed that this exercise will ensure that the citizens have complete access to the entire record of Toshakhana which will aid the process of fairness, accountability and transparency.
Also read: Court summons Imran in Toshakhana case
It is settled law that Article 19 (A) of the Constitution has empowered the citizens of Pakistan “by making access to information a justiciable right of the people rather than being largesse bestowed by the State at its whim”.
“Article 19(A) of the Constitution has, thus, enabled every citizen to become independent power centres which, heretofore, have been in control of information on matters of public importance. All information that can be of any public importance must be made available to the general public,” read the petition.
The petitioner further added that it is imperative for the sake of justice and principle of fairness that information and detail of all the gifts that have been received by former presidents and prime ministers is unveiled as this is a matter of great public importance.
The petition stated that: “The citizens of this country possess an inherent fundamental right to be privy to the entire record of Toshakhana as this will prevent anyone from misusing the privileges granted by Toshakhana, and safeguard the natural interests of the State by ensuring accountability in case of any mischief.”
The counsel told the court that details of Toshakhana gifts received by ex-PM Imran Khan have been disclosed by the Cabinet Division. But details regarding former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif, Yousaf Raza Gillani and former president Asif Ali Zardari have never ever been disclosed by the Cabinet Division “which is purely an act of malafide”.
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