ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) withdrew a reference against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on Thursday, a day after filing it with the Supreme Judicial Council, to add more evidence and highlight further legal aspects.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told journalists in Islamabad the reference would be filed again after adding more evidence against the CEC, including amendments to the initial verdict and subsequent addition.

Moved through Babar Awan, the reference pleaded with the SJC to order the 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 Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in his office to “pressure” him into announcing the verdict on the PTI prohibited funding case.

Fawad Chaudhry says reference to be filed again after considering additional aspects, including amendments to initial verdict

It was a consequence of that meeting that the ECP decided to deliver the verdict on Aug 2, the reference alleged, adding that by doing so the CEC had allegedly violated his oath.

The reference contended that the ECP’s decision was illegal, unlawful and coram non judice, i.e. before a court that lacks the authority to hear and decide the case.

It said the PTI would challenge the order in court and 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 applied to the chief election commissioner as well, the PTI said, adding that a high court judge never discussed 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.

CEC Sultan Raja 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.

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

Instead, the ECP announced a verdict in the PTI case only and kept the cases of other parties in abeyance, the reference said and described it as “absolute discrimination”.

It was 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 had 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, it said.

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.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2022

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