The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday asked why the federal government was ashamed to disclose the gifts given to Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying that gifts given to rulers belong to the public of that country.
According to Express News, during the hearing of the Toshakhana reference on Wednesday, the federal government sought time from the high court to decide whether or not to disclose the gifts given to the premier by other countries.
Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb remarked that the government may avoid disclosing any defence gift, but why was the same principle being applied to every gift. “If some country has given a necklace as a gift, what is the harm in making it public?” he asked.
The judge also asked why the government was ashamed of disclosing the details of gifts received from other countries.
Justice Aurangzeb maintained that gifts given to rulers belong to the people of the country and not the rulers. He questioned whether these public office holders would have been given the same gifts were it not for their official position.
He further asked why the gifts given to the premier are not kept in a museum and highlighted that this is the norm in other countries.
The justice further urged the government to disclose the details of all gifts received during the last 10 years and to inform the court about the number of gifts that have had their valuation done by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
The government representative at the hearing requested time to respond to the court’s query, after which the hearing was adjourned.
A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aurangzeb issued the notices in a petition moved by the federal government petition against the PIC order to give details of the gifts received by Prime Minister Imran Khan from abroad.
A citizen, Rana Abrar Khalid, had sought the details of gifts received by PM Khan. The federation filed the petition through the Cabinet Division and cited the PIC and Rana Abrar Khalid as respondents.
The IHC bench, after issuing notices to the PIC and the citizen, Abrar, adjourned the hearing till October 6.
Earlier, the cabinet division moved the court and claimed that the PIC order was “illegal, without lawful authority”. The government had contended that the disclosure of any information related to Toshakhana would jeopardise international ties.
Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division. Established in 1974, it stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments, states and foreign dignitaries.
It is mandatory that gifts of a certain value are kept in Toshakhana. However, officials can keep these gifts provided they pay a certain percentage of the price assessed by the Toshakhana evaluation committee.