• No immediate relief on plea to delay by-polls on NA seats
• FIA told to re-issue notices to party’s lower staff

ISLAMABAD: The Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has moved the Islamabad High Court against the Ele­c­tion Commission of Pakis­tan’s judgement in the prohibited funding case against the party.

Filed by PTI Additional General Secretary Omar Ayub, the court registrar office received the petition on Wednesday. However, the petition could not be fixed for haring since it was submitted after the prescribed deadline with the result that the department concerned could not scrutinise the annexure and documents consisting of over 6,000 pages.

Wednesday also saw the party involved in other legal matters as well, such as the schedule for by-polls for nine National Assembly seats that it opposed; and the notices that the FIA had issued to some PTI officials in wake of the ECP verdict in the funding case.

The main petition filed by the party stated that the Supreme Court had examined the matter and referred it back to the ECP for scrutiny of the accounts of all political parties, including the PTI. “Sadly, only PTI was targeted.”

According to the petitioner, the case against PTI pertains to an allegation of receiving “funds from prohibited source”.

The petition said, “the party explained and reconciled each and every account through a financial expert, orally as also by submitting a written financial summary, reconciling each and every transaction and, exp­la­ining all amounts rece­ived with its reconciliation with the audited accounts. How­ever, in complete disregard to all the submissions and without giving any reasoning for such disregard the respondent [ECP] passed the impugned fact finding report”.

The petition pointed out the ECP is not complete “in the absence of the total number of members as defined in the Constitution and deficient representation from all provinces? If so, does it not disenfranchise the provincial representation on the ECP as envisaged by the Constitution of Pakistan permitting manipulation and outside political interference in the work of the ECP?”

Mr Ayub said ECP had not considered, not even rebutted, the information provided by PTI and “acted with sheer mala fide, without application of mind and has based its findings on fabricated facts, which were aimed to harm and tarnish the political image of the petitioner”.

The petition requested the court to suspend the ECP’s verdict and the show cause notice issued to PTI as well as set aside the ECP’s report on the foreign funding.

By-polls delay plea

In a separate case, the IHC declined to grant immediate relief to PTI on its petition seeking suspension of by-elections on nine NA seats.

Acting IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq issued notices to ECP and NA Secretariat, seeking their reply till Aug 16.

PTI had requested the IHC to suspend the by-polls schedule till disposal of another petition seeking court’s direction to the NA speaker and ECP to approve resignations of and de-notify all the 123 MNAs belonging to the party.

Justice Farooq asked the counsel for PTI Faisal Hussain Chaudhry to explain legal reasoning for seeking suspension of the by-elections schedule.

Advocate Chaudhry argued that the petition against acceptance of resignation of 123 MNAs in piecemeal is pending before the court and the PTI wanted the ECP to de-notify all the MNAs.

Justice Farooq said the party may contest the election and in case the ECP de-notified the 123 MNAs, the PTI could go for election on these seats. The petition contended that after the regime change, the PTI had decided to quit NA since it was seeking a fresh mandate from the people of Pakistan. Pursuant to the decision of PTI’s parliamentary party on April 11, 123 MNAs tendered resignations before the deputy speaker who accepted all of them forthwith, it argued. However, the incumbent NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf withheld the resignations and did not forward them to the ECP on the pretext of “so-called verification of the resignation”.

FIA notices to be reissued

In yet another matter, the IHC disposed of a petition filed by lower staffers of PTI challenging the notices issued by FIA to them after the investigation agency assured it of re-issuance of the same in accordance with the standard operating procedure (SOP).

The petition contended that FIA had not mentioned the reason for summoning in its notices to the staff.

Justice Aamer Farooq while hearing case court noted that FIA had issued notices while violating its own SOP that makes it mandatory to explain detailed reasons for summoning.

He observed that it was the responsibility of the investigation agency to explain the reason in details to person being summoned.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2022

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