ISLAMABAD: A day after the announcement of the verdict by the Election Commission of Pakistan in the prohibited funding case, the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf moved a reference before the Supreme Judicial Council against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on Wednesday.

Moved through Babar Awan, the reference pleaded with the SJC to order removal of the CEC on account of the “commission of continuous and deliberate misconduct”.

The reference alleged that on July 29, a delegation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) met the CEC and four other members of the ECP in his office to “pressure” him into announcing the verdict in the prohibited funding case.

It was a consequence of that meeting that the Election Commission decided to deliver the verdict on Aug 2.

Imran reaffirms party decision to hold protest outside ECP offices today

Thus the CEC allegedly violated his oath, the reference argued.

The reference contended that the ECP decision was illegal, unlawful and coram non judice. The PTI will challenge the order in court, it added.

The reference further argued the CEC had violated the ECP’s code of conduct and failed to fulfil his constitutional obligations.

The code of conduct for judges of the superior judiciary applies to the chief election commissioner as well, the PTI said, adding that a high court judge never discusses pending cases with any person or institution.

“The CEC must be removed from one of the most respectable and sacred constitutional posts,” the reference said.

Joint hearing

Sikandar Sultan Raja, the CEC, had dismissed many PTI applications in the prohibited funding case, including a request to conduct a joint hearing in funding cases of PTI and other parties, the reference said.

The Islamabad High Court provided relief to PTI, asking the ECP to extend an equal treatment to all political parties and to hear their cases with due diligence and to concluded these within a reasonable time, the reference said.

Instead, the reference complained, the ECP announced a verdict in the PTI case only and kept the cases of other parties in abeyance. “This is absolute discrimination.”

It is a routine matter that judges of the Supreme Court meet members of the Pakistan Bar Council, the Supreme Court Bar Association and other lawyer forums, but it has been observed recently that the apex court refused to meet a delegation of the Supreme Court Bar Association during hearing of the suo motu petition under article 184(3) of the Constitution in the “Parvez Elahi versus Deputy Speaker, Punjab Assembly” case since it was one of the parties in the proceedings.

The same rule applied to the CEC, the reference said, but he not only met the PDM delegation but also admitted that a discussion did take place on the timing of the judgement in PTI prohibited funding case.

The reference recalled that the Lahore High Court had asked the Election Commission in 2018 to dispose of a funding case related to the Peoples Party within one month. But the ECP did not comply with the directive “only to benefit (PPP chief) Bilawal Bhutto in the run-up to the general election”, the PTI alleged.

“The discriminatory attitude of the respondent has been noticeable time and again since 125 members of the National Assembly resigned their seats on April 9, which was accepted by former deputy speaker (acting as Speaker) Qasim Suri.

“Their resignations were published in the gazette on April 13 and sent to the ECP, but they were not denotified, whereas the current National Assembly Speaker, by doing an illegal and unconstitutional act, accepted the resignation of 11 members out of 125 and sent the reference to the CEC. He took no time to denotify them,” the PTI said.

In the disqualification case of Mohammad Kashif Chaudhry, a PML-N member of the Punjab Assembly, the CEC delayed the process of his denotification, the PTI said. But when Faisal Niazi, a former member of the Punjab Assembly belonging to PML-N, resigned his seat to dissociate himself from his party, the CEC delayed the denotification process, the reference alleged.

Electronic voting machine

The CEC has been opposing the introduction of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) so that the PTI’s opponents “are able to use unfair means during elections”, the reference further alleged.

The PTI-led government in the centre was toppled through a “conspiracy initiated upon the cypher issued by Donald Lu, a US Deputy Undersecretary of State”, on March 8, the reference alleged.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan said he would thank the coalition government if they included his name in the exit control list (ECL), adding he did not want to fly abroad as he didn’t own any flats there.

Khan, in an interview with a private news channel, said PTI will approach the Supreme Judicial Commission against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

He said the PTI leaders, workers, and supporters will stage a peaceful protest outside the ECP (on Thursday) and will not enter the Red Zone.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2022

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