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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday announced that it was within its jurisdiction to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

A five-member tribunal of the ECP hearing the petition filed by Akbar S. Babar, that seeks Khan's disqualification, rejected the PTI chief's objections regarding its jurisdiction to initiate contempt of court proceedings.

On July 10, the PTI chief had submitted a reply before the tribunal of the ECP, saying that the commission could not initiate contempt of court proceedings against an individual as that right lies only with the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

The same was argued before the commission by Khan's lawyer, Advocate Babar Awan. "If the ECP is equal to a high court, will a full-bench conduct proceedings every day?" Awan had asked, arguing that the Constitution gives the ECP a different status from that enjoyed by the high courts. "If a full bench of the ECP gives a verdict, where will I file my appeal?"

The tribunal had reserved its judgement on the matter after Awan's statements.

In light of Thursday's ruling, the tribunal will continue to hear the petition against Khan.

The ECP has also issued Khan a show-cause notice and asked him to submit a reply by August 23.

Contempt notice

In January, the ECP had issued a contempt notice to Imran Khan over his contentious remarks in a review application filed before the election body.

During the hearing of a contempt petition filed by Akbar S. Babar, a former founding member of PTI who parted ways with the party and is now the complainant in the foreign funding case against his old party, the commission took exception to the remarks made by Imran Khan alleging ‘bias’ in favour of the petitioner for ‘extraneous reasons, including political.’

Khan had filed the review application against the ECP’s order to produce the PTI's financial documents before the commission.