The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide the foreign funding case within the next 30 days.
In a written order issued on Wednesday, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani rejected a request to prevent giving access of the case's record to PTI founding member Akbar S Babar and a request to remove him from the case proceedings.
The PTI had filed petitions on January 25 and 31 regarding the above two requests that were subsequently rejected by the ECP on March 15. The party had then filed a petition challenging the ECP's decision to dismiss the pleas.
"The claim submitted by the petitioner (PTI) is not maintainable as petitioner itself is not able to demonstrate any of his legitimate rights when [it] itself is in agreement that respondent No 2 (Babar) can participate in the proceedings to the extent of information which he has provided to the scrutiny committee or the ECP, therefore, this petition is not based upon bona fide, rather filed with specific motive, just to stop respondent No 2 Akbar Sher Babar to participate in the proceedings, which has already been settled by this court in the previous proceedings," the order said.
It said the instant writ petition was "misconceived" and dismissed it along with directing the ECP to decide the pending complaint within a "period of next 30 days by all means, after hearing the parties in accordance with law”.
The written order said the role of the ECP was of an "important nature" and could not be curtailed in any manner since it was a body under the Constitution to deal with affairs of political parties and elections.
"No restriction could be imposed upon ECP to adopt any process of inquiry, investigation, scrutiny to reach out the mandate of assigned duty in terms of Article 17(3)," the order said.
It noted that if party funding had been received through prohibited sources then it would affect its status, including the chairman's, and thus it was "necessary to dig out the truth". The order added that even the PTI as the petitioner was obliged to maintain its dignity and integrity.
"If any foreign funding has been received contrary to law and mandate of the Constitution, the petitioner has to face the music,” the court judgement said.
It pointed out that the Supreme Court had not restricted the ECP in this regard in adopting any method to find out the truth or satisfy the foreign funding case.
The foreign funding case is pending since November 14, 2014. The case was filed by Babar who had alleged serious financial irregularities in the PTI’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.
On January 4 this year, the ECP’s scrutiny committee, formed in March 2018 to examine the PTI’s foreign funding in one month, finally submitted its report after 95 hearings and nearly four years.
The report, based on eight volumes of record requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan, proved that the PTI leadership had committed gross violations of funding laws by allowing the collection of millions of dollars and billions of rupees without any source and details from foreigners, including Indian nationals and foreign companies.