Petitioner seeks details of Toshakhana gifts

LHC requested to order disclosure of price determination, amount deposited

Our Correspondent December 18, 2022


A writ petition seeking details of dignitaries and officials who have obtained gifts from the Toshakhana has been filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The petitioner requested the court to direct the authorities concerned to make public all details of the gifts, the method following which their prices were determined and how much money was deposited in the treasury.

The petition was filed by Munir Ahmed through Advocate Azhar Siddique.

The counsel stated that the Islamabad High Court on April 20 had directed the federal cabinet to disclose all information and specifications in relation to all the gifts received by former prime minister Imran Khan during his tenure.

Following the order, the petitioner sought information about all the gifts taken away by the prime ministers and presidents since 1947.

The petitioner also sought information about the market value of the gifts at the time, their assessed value and the amount paid by the receivers.

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

The counsel contended that Article 19(A) of the Constitution had made access to information a justiciable right of the people rather than largesse bestowed by the state at its whim. All information that can be of any public importance must be made available to the general public.

As per the petition, the citizens possess an inherent fundamental right to be privy to the entire record of the Toshakhana as this would prevent anyone from misusing the privileges and safeguard the interests of the state by ensuring accountability in case of any mischief.

He implored that details of gifts received under the premiership of Imran Khan had been disclosed by the Cabinet Division but not to the extent former prime ministers Mian Nawaz Sharif and Yousaf Raza Gillani and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari.

The petitioner stated that he had sent a letter to the president, prime minister, Cabinet Division secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Interior Division and the chairman of the Pakistan Information Commission for provision of the information, but in vain.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2022.


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