The chief election commissioner (CEC) on Wednesday told a lawyer representing the Pakistani Awami Tehreek (PAT) in a case challenging re-election of Nawaz Sharif as PML-N head that recent amendments to the Elections Act 2017 had provided legal cover to the former prime minister's re-election.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was hearing petitions filed by PAT, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and other parties challenging the party presidency of Sharif, who had been asked to step down as party head following his disqualification as prime minister by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case in August.
The government, however, bulldozed the amended Election Bill 2017 through the National Assembly on Oct 2, allowing politicians disqualified from holding public office to head a political party, paving the way for Sharif to head his party again.
A day later, Nawaz was re-elected president of PML-N unopposed.
Following his re-election, opposition parties had filed petitions in the ECP challenging Nawaz's re-election.
During Wednesday's hearing, the CEC said that the Constitution had been amended with respect to rules pertaining to holding of party offices.
The case was adjourned until Nov 30.
PTI 'code of conduct' violation
Also on Wednesday, the ECP heard a case pertaining to alleged violation of the code of conduct by the PTI during by-polls in Jhelum and Vehari, for which the body had sent notices to the party.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan had challenged the notices before the Islamabad High Court.
PTI lawyer Advocate Shahid Gondal recalled during today's hearing that the party had challenged the restriction imposed by the ECP on party heads and lawmakers to run campaigns for by-elections.
Advocate Gondal told the commission that a hearing of the case was scheduled for November 29 in the high court.
The lawyer also told the court that on May 4, the high court had stayed ECP proceedings against the PTI chairman for addressing rallies in various constituencies during by-election campaigns.
In response, the CEC told the advocate to present the high court's stay order before the commission.
"The high court did not issue any stay order to the ECP. The code of conduct is established through consultations with political parties and in keeping with the Constitution," the CEC said.
"Should we do away with this code now?" he asked.
The hearing of the case was adjourned till Dec 4. The ECP said it would announce its decision in the case on that day after hearing the lawyers' arguments.