ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday suspended arrest warrants issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in a contempt case.
A larger IHC bench of three members headed by Justice Aamer Farooq directed the PTI’s counsel to properly respond to the ECP’s show cause notice along with an affidavit by Imran Khan by Sept 25 The bench noted that Mr Khan has yet to submit a reply to the show-cause notice and that his previous reply submitted before the ECP was not signed by him.
The ECP had on Aug 24 issued a show-cause notice to Mr Khan after he did not to reply to an earlier notice regarding the contempt of court proceedings against him.
The ECP was hearing the contempt of court case against the PTI chief filed by an estranged activist, Akbar S Babar.
Imran Khan had initially challenged the maintainability of the contempt petition and raised objections over the ECP’s jurisdiction to initiate contempt proceedings against him.
The ECP, on the other hand, declared on Aug 10 that it had the mandate to hear the contempt case. Subsequently, the commission issued a show-cause notice to the PTI chief asking him to submit a reply by Aug 23.
Khan has challenged the August 10 show-cause notice issued by the commission under section 103A of the Representation of People Act, 1976 and under Article 204 of the Constitution for committing contempt of court by not submitting foreign funding record despite orders.
After hearing the arguments made by Mr Khan’s counsel, Babar Awan, IHC’s Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had on Aug 30 referred the matter to the IHC chief justice for the formation of a larger bench to hear the matter.
Subsequently, IHC Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi constituted a three-member bench.
Through his lawyer Babar Awan, the PTI chief told the court that the ECP initiated proceedings against him in relation to an order dated Jan 16, 2017.
The counsel said the ECP did not have powers to proceed against him for contempt. He said the commission heard the objection petition and dismissed it on Aug 10, 2017. The petitioner is aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order, as it is against the law and facts.
After the court order, PTI issued a statement saying that Mr Khan will reply to the ECP’s show-cause notice with regards to contempt proceedings.
It said that the warrants issued by the ECP were scrapped by a three-member larger bench of the court headed by Justice Amir Farooq on Wednesday, quashing the hopes of those who wanted Imran Khan disqualified.
Suspending the warrants against the PTI chairman, the judge remarked that this is civil contempt and appearance of the accused is not mandatory, the statement says.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2017