LHC seeks details of Toshakhana gifts since 1947

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Court directs govt’s lawyer to submit details by Jan 16

The Lahore High Court on Monday sought details of gifts obtained from the Toshakhana since 1947 on a plea seeking direction to quarters concerned to provide details of dignitaries, bureaucrats and officials who had obtained the gifts.

Justice Asim Hafeez presided over the case, wherein the law officer representing the government implored the court that the details of Toshakhana gifts are “secret” and could not be provided.

The judge remarked that when any person buys a gift from the Toshakhana he is required to mention them in his tax returns. “How could it be kept in secrecy?” he questioned.

He directed the government’s lawyer to submit details before the court by January 16 and said that the LHC will decide whether or not the details are to be kept secret. During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel Advocate Azhar Siddique told the court that no details were available about those who obtained Toshakhana gifts, under which mechanism the cost of the gifts was determined and/or how much money was deposited in the national exchequer.

He requested the court to direct the quarters concerned to make public all the details of the gifts.

The petition was filed by Munir Ahmed through Senior Advocate Azhar Siddique, wherein the petitioner maintained that the Islamabad High Court on April 20, 2022, had directed the cabinet to disclose all information and specifications in relation to all the gifts received by Imran Khan, during his tenure as prime minister.

Following this order, the petitioner sought information about all the gifts bought, withdrawn or taken by prime ministers and presidents of Pakistan since 1947.

Additionally, the petitioner also sought information regarding the market value of the gifts (prevalent at that time), the assessed value of the gifts and the amount paid by the receivers of the gifts (presidents and prime ministers) from 1947 till date. Advocate Siddique submitted that the petitioner believes this exercise will ensure that citizens have complete access to the entire record of the Toshakhana which will aid the process of fairness, accountability and transparency.