ISLAMABAD, Aug 1: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan is not backing off from the position he has taken on the role of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Supreme Court in the May 11 elections and will reiterate it on Friday when he will appear in the apex court on a contempt notice issued to him by the court.
In an interview to a private television channel, Imran Khan said he was ready to go to jail, but would not offer any apology over his remarks. He said that as a politician it was his right to lodge protest.
“I have not done anything wrong. I am fighting for democracy,” he said.
The PTI chief will appear before a three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He will be accompanied by Advocate Hamid Khan and senior party leaders.
The court has directed Attorney General Muneer A. Malik to assist it in the matter.
Since the May 11 elections, the PTI chief has been repeatedly accusing the two institutions of having failed to conduct free and fair elections and respond properly to rigging allegation.
Objecting to his latest outbursts the apex court issued a contempt notice to him and asked him to respond on Friday.
“The PTI chief has never criticised the SC as an institution but the conduct of returning officers who failed to carry out their duty in checking election rigging,” said Dr Shireen Mazari who is official spokesperson of the party and its chairman.
She said there was absolutely no need to offer an apology, because Imran Khan had not committed contempt of court. “He is standing by what he has said.”
She said the party had decided that Imran Khan would personally appear before the court, as asked, and present his viewpoint.
Defending the stance of Imran Khan, she said that when members of the lower judiciary were made returning officers for the elections they became part of the ECP and, therefore, criticising their ‘dubious role’ didn’t amount to committing contempt of court.
She said the PTI was in the forefront during lawyers’ movement which resulted in restoration of deposed judges of superior courts.
Soon after the court issued the contempt notice on Wednesday, Imran Khan held a meeting with leaders of his party to discuss the future course of action.On Thursday, a PTI office-bearer told Dawn Imran Khan was briefed by Barrister Salman Afridi who looked after PTI’s legal matters. “We are hoping the Supreme Court after listening to Imran Khan’s stand will not press the charge of contempt of court,” he added.
In the contempt notice the court has mentioned three occasions (July 26, July 29 and July 30) when the PTI chief made derogatory remarks about the superior judiciary and its judges.
On July 26, Imran Khan warned of countrywide protests after Ramazan if the SC and ECP did not listen to the party’s call for biometric-based investigation of votes in four constituencies.
The PTI has filed a petition in the SC pleading for an investigation into alleged rigging in the May 11 elections.
The PTI chief is of the opinion that his party has enough evidence to prove that the May 11 elections were rigged.
At a press conference on July 29, he expressed lack of trust in the judiciary.
On July 30, he reportedly accused the judiciary of having double standards.
Some legal experts are of the view that the SC should not have issued the contempt notice at a time when it is already facing criticism from some quarters over its order to advance the date of presidential election.
Our Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: PTI leader and Supreme Court lawyer Hamid Khan said on Thursday that Imran Khan would not be submitting any reply to contempt of court notice on Friday.
He said the PTI would seek time to file a reply.
Hamid Khan said the PTI was in the process of finalising a reply to be submitted to the court.