Thursday, August 11, 2022

Secret auctions of state gifts ‘unconstitutional’, rules LHC

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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) declared on Tuesday secret auctions of precious state gifts kept in Toshakhana unconstitutional.

A bench of the LHC comprising Chief Justice Qasim Khan ruled that the policy of secret auctions of gifts given to government officials by heads of other countries and foreign dignitaries is unconstitutional.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Advocate Adnan Paracha against secret auctions of Toshakhana items. The top LHC judge directed the government to legislate on the matter.

During the hearing, a government counsel said that dignitaries of two countries exchange gifts, to which Justice Khan replied that states exchange gifts and not personalities. “Can they get state gifts if they are not holding any public office?” he asked.

The petitioner said Toshakhana stores gifts given to a president, a prime minister and ministers by heads of other states and foreign dignitaries as a goodwill gesture but the government auctions these valuables without following any legal procedure.

In order to keep the auction process under wraps, the federal authorities write letters to officials instead of inviting the public to participate in the auction via ads, he lamented.

At a previous hearing, the court had restrained the federal government from auctioning precious gifts available in the Toshakhana of the Cabinet Division till further orders.

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