LHC seeks complete record of State Gifts

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered the federal government on Monday to submit the records of Toshakhana gifts received by public office holders from foreign governments and dignitaries since 1947.
The Tosha­khana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dig-nitaries.
According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules ap-ply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.
A day ago, the government — after initially expressing reluctance — publicly released the much-awaited records of Toshakhana gifts from 2002 to 2022. It had already submitted the details to the LHC on Feb 21 during the hearing of a petition seeking to make Toshakhana records public.
The plea — filed by Munir Ahmad through Advocate Azhar Siddique last year — had asked to make public complete details of the Toshakhana gifts received by political rulers and bureaucrats from foreign dignitaries since 1947.
However, on Feb 23, the federal government had told the LHC that details since 2002 were being “declassified”. Upon being inquired by Justice Asim Hafeez if the government did not have the records of gifts bought before 2002, the ad-ditional attorney general had replied they were not computerised.

Hearing the plea yesterday, Justice Hafeez ordered the federal government to submit the complete details today, say-ing: “Present the [Toshakhana] records from before 2002 in court, no matter in which form they are.”

“The court will pronounce the verdict after having a full review [of the Toshakhana records]. We will also see who were these gifts given by,” he said.

The LHC judge further noted that it was also necessary to review the aspect of “why these gifts are given”.

Here, the petitioner’s counsel asked: “If a minister is taking a gift, it is understandable but those who have public posi-tions, how can they take gifts?” –Agencies