ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday directed its committee to conclude scrutiny of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s foreign funding by the end of May.
In its order issued on a complaint filed by Akbar S. Babar, the petitioner in foreign funding case and PTI’s founding member, against the scrutiny committee’s decision to keep the ruling party’s financial documents secret, the ECP stated: “We are of the considered view at this stage we cannot pass any remarks/on the instant application because the matter is sub judice before the Scrutiny Committee and ultimately the matter would be decided by the Commission after hearing arguments of both parties and in the light of the available record.”
The ECP in its order reiterated the petitioner’s claim of access to all PTI accounts, stating: “The Commission vide order dated 30.05.2016 turned down/dismissed the respondent’s [PTI] applications seeking security, secrecy and sanctity of the Scrutiny Committee proceedings of the respondent’s funds and held that record being scrutinised is a public document, the copies whereof can be obtained by anyone.”
However, the ECP said: “We have informed the petitioner that ultimately the Scrutiny Committee will send its report along with all the records to the Commission and then we will have to decide the case of foreign funding. When the matter will come before the Commission, at that time all the parties can take copies or peruse documents.”
Directs the panel to conclude scrutiny of ruling party’s foreign funding by end of May
The order stated: “To avoid any further delay in the proceedings before the Scrutiny Committee and to solve the issue of provision of copies of respondent’s record to the petitioner, Commission reaches the conclusion that: 1) The Scrutiny Committee is directed to grant eight (08) regular working days to both the parties from 10am to 3pm to inspect/peruse the records/documents submitted by both parties; 2) Both sides are allowed to take help of two technical persons (chartered accountant/financial analyst/financial expert) for perusal of records/documents submitted by both parties; 3) Both parties are directed to give names of their two technical persons to the Commission within five days who will attend the Scrutiny Committee along with their counsel during the above said time period. The given names will not be changed; 4) DD (Law) and DD (Confidential) are deputed with the Scrutiny Committee for association, supervision, and security of the record and they are directed to remain present with both the parties during the above said time period; and 5) The Scrutiny Committee is directed to scrutinise all the records i.e., documents submitted by the petitioner, respondent, and records procured by the Committee from other sources, evaluate the evidence from the documents and form a definitive opinion and then submit its detailed fact finding, comprehensive, proper, substantial report to the Commission till the end of May 2012.”
Talking to reporters outside the ECP, Akbar S. Babar said the order recognised the right of the petitioner to access all PTI documents. He said allowing full perusal of all PTI accounts by professional auditors should improve the pace of scrutiny process and allow credible scrutiny.
Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2021