The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday decided to scrutinise documents submitted by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) regarding the party's finances without sharing them with former PTI leader and petitioner in the case, Akbar S. Babar.

Babar, a dissident founder member of the PTI, filed a case before the ECP in 2014. The party avoided submitting the required documents for nearly two years for one reason or the other; first approaching the Supreme Court to challenge the commission’s jurisdiction in the matter and later, challenging the maintainability of the case before the high court.

After months of foot-dragging, the PTI finally submitted account statements and documents detailing the funding it received from foreign sources over the past seven years to the ECP on Sept 18 despite being given several 'last warnings' by the commission ─ which went largely ignored ─ to submit the required documents.

During Monday's hearing of the case at the ECP before a four-judge bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner retd Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza, Babar's lawyer insisted that the PTI had not submitted the complete details of its finances.

The PTI's lawyer Saqlain Haider maintained, however, that all relevant financial details had been shared with the ECP.

The ECP bench decided to scrutinise the PTI's bank accounts, but said that the documents would not be shared with the petitioner.

"The account details will not be provided to the petitioner unless the Islamabad High Court asks the ECP to share the information," Justice Raza said.

Long-drawn case

The case was filed on Nov 14, 2014 by Babar, after he developed differences with the PTI chief over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.

The petitioner had alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Imran Khan’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi’ channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees. He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

In April 2015, after scrutinising PTI’s annual audit reports, the ECP had ordered that the party had failed to disclose the sources and details of foreign funds received.

But instead of submitting the accounts, the PTI had challenged the ECP’s jurisdiction to scrutinise its accounts.

In July, the Islamabad High Court rejected PTI's plea to prevent the ECP from hearing Babar's petition, saying that the case has been going on since 2014 and has already once been referred back to the ECP.

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