Prohibited funding: ECP summons Imran Khan on Aug 23

Published August 5, 2022
<p>PTI chairman Imran Khan gestures during a press conference. — AFP/file</p>

PTI chairman Imran Khan gestures during a press conference. — AFP/file

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday issued a notice to PTI chairman Imran Khan and summoned him on August 23 in the prohibited funding case, in which it had ruled that the party had received foreign funds.

According to the ECP website, the case titled "Notice to Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in terms of Rule 6 of Political Parties Rule 2006, in compliance of judgment by the commission dated August 2 in case title Akbar Sher Babar" has been fixed for hearing on August 23, at 10am.

It also issued a notice to Imran in a separate hearing with regard to his disqualification, which will be heard on August 16.

Earlier this week, the electoral body, in a unanimous verdict, ruled that the PTI did indeed receive prohibited funding and issued a notice to the party asking why the funds should not be confiscated.

A three-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar (CEC) Sultan Raja had passed the judgment in a case filed by PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar pending since November 14, 2014.

In the written verdict, the commission noted that the party "knowingly and willfully" received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi. The party was a "willing recipient" of prohibited money of $2,121,500, it said.

The ECP said that the party "knowingly and willfully" also received donations from Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based company), E-Planet Trustees (a Cayman Islands private registered company), SS Marketing Manchester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were "hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws".

It went on to say that the party also received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company. "From both the companies, the amounts received into its accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws."

Further, the party received donations from Australia-based company Dunpec Limited, and Pakistani companies Anwar Brothers, Zain Cotton and Young Sports which was again in violation of the law.

"PTI Pakistan, through fundraising campaigns by PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975, was a recipient of donations from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. Collection of donations and contributions from foreign nationals and companies are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws," it said.

The electoral watchdog also said that the PTI had been found to be a beneficiary of donations made by Romita Shetty, a US-based business woman of Indian-origin which was in violation of the law.

The ECP said the party had only owned eight accounts before the commission and declared 13 accounts to be unknown. "The data obtained from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reveals that all the 13 accounts disowned by the PTI were opened and operated by senior PTI management and leadership at [a] central and provincial level."

The commission noted that the party also failed to mention three accounts which were also being operated by the party's senior leadership. Non-disclosure and concealment of 16 bank accounts by the PTI is a "serious lapse" on part of the PTI's leadership and in violation of Article 17(3) of the Constitution, it said.

Article 17(3) says: "Every political party shall account for the source of its funds in accordance with the law."

The PTI chairman submitted Form-I for five years (between 2008-2013) which was found to be "grossly inaccurate on the basis of the financial statements obtained by this commission from SBP and other material available on record".

"Therefore [...] the matter falls within the ambit of Article 6(3) of Political Parties Order 2002 (PPO). Hence , the commission directs that a notice may be issued to the respondent party in terms of Rule 6 of the PPO as to why the aforementioned prohibited funds may not be confiscated. The office is also directed to initiate any other action under the law in light of this order of the commission, including forwarding the case to the federal government."

Article 6(3) of the PPO states: “Any contribution made, directly or indirectly, by any foreign government, multinational or domestically incorporated public or private company, firm, trade or professional association shall be prohibited and the parties may accept contributions and donations only from individuals.”

In its order, the commission also said that it was "constrained to hold that Imran Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the Pakistani statutes."

The PTI chairman has for five successive years submitted Form-I and signed a certificate which is not consistent with the accounting information before us, it said.

"Imran Khan, for the five years under review, has filed submissions that were grossly inaccurate and wrong. Even during the course of scrutiny and hearing by this commission, the PTI continued to conceal and withhold complete and full disclosure of [the] source of its funds," it said.

Disqualification reference against Imran

Separately, the ECP has also accepted for hearing a reference seeking the disqualification of Imran from public office filed by a group of MNAs associated with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

It has been fixed for hearing on August 18, according to the commission's website.

The reference was filed yesterday by MNA Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha to Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, carrying signatures of lawmakers Agha Hassan Baloch, Salahudeen Ayubi, Ali Gohar Khan, Syed Rafiullah Agha and Saad Waseem Sheikh.

It demanded the ECP to disqualify Imran under Sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f). It also carried documentary evidence to corroborate their claims against the ex-PM.

Article 62(1)(f) says: "A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless [...] he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law."

Article 63(2) says: "If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within thirty days and should he fail to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission."

While, Article 63(3) reads: "The Election Commission shall decide the question within ninety days from its receipt or deemed to have been received and if it is of the opinion that the member has become disqualified, he shall cease to be a member and his seat shall become vacant."

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