The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday issued another show-cause notice to PTI Chairman Imran Khan after the latter failed to reply to the earlier notice regarding the contempt of court proceedings against him.
The commission was hearing the contempt of court case against the PTI chief filed by PTI dissident and one of the founding members, Akbar S. Babar.
Imran Khan had initially challenged maintainability of the contempt petition and raised objections over ECP’s jurisdiction to initiate contempt proceedings against him; the commission, however, declared on August 10 that it had the legal right to hear the contempt case. It then issued a formal show-cause notice to the PTI chairman, asking him to submit a reply by Aug 23.
PTI chief's counsel Babar Awan appeared before the five-member ECP bench — headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza — on Tuesday and pleaded that they wanted to challenge the ECP’s judgement regarding the maintainability of the contempt petition and hence, should be granted some time to do so.
The counsel further said that the ECP’s notice was received on August 21, to which the CEC said that it had been issued on August 15.
The ECP then decided to issue another show-cause notice to Imran Khan and adjourned the case hearing until September 14.
Earlier this month, soon after the announcement of the verdict by the CEC, PTI’s counsel Shahid Gondal had told reporters that they would challenge the decision in the Islamabad High Court because they still believed that the election body had no jurisdiction to hear contempt cases.
Imran Khan, through his counsel, has long argued before the ECP that only the Supreme Court and high courts have the powers to take up contempt petitions where the parties had the opportunity to file appeals before larger benches.
Accusing a judge or a court of bias did not necessarily constitute contempt, he had contended, adding that alleging bias was the inherent right of the defendant and it could not be labeled as ‘contempt’.
On the other hand, the petitioner’s counsel Syed Ahmed Hasan had cited a number of relevant constitutional provisions as well as laws to prove that the ECP had the powers to hear contempt cases.
Earlier, while talking to reporters, Akbar S. Babar had praised the ECP for exercising its constitutional right of bringing the powerful under the law. He had alleged that Imran Khan considered himself above the law by refusing to comply with at least 21 ECP orders during the course of the foreign funding case filed in November 2014.