ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday hinted at indicting PTI Chairman Imran Khan and two other leaders of the party in a contempt case next month.
“We will have no other choice after Nov 10, but to charge-sheet Imran Khan, Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry if they fail to appear in the contempt case,” ECP member from Sindh Nisar Ahmad Durrani said while heading a four-member bench that heard the contempt of ECP and CEC case against the three leaders.
Anwar Mansoor, counsel for Imran Khan, argued that the question of legality of the show-cause notice should be decided first, as he contended this notice had been issued by the secretary of the election commission and not the Election Commission of Pakistan.
He argued that unless this issue was resolved, the show-cause notices were illegal.
Ex-PM’s counsel wants question of legality of show-cause notice decided first
In response, ECP member Durrani said the notice had been issued by the secretary on behalf of the commission and it was the ECP’s notice.
When Mr Mansoor requested the bench to hold the hearing after Oct 31, Mr Durrani said there would be no option but to frame the charge on or after Nov 10.
Mr Mansoor insisted that the ECP was not a court. On this point, Mr Durrani said “when we have said the Election Commission of Pakistan is a court, we have jurisdiction”.
Later, the hearing of the case was adjourned for an indefinite period.
The ECP had, on Aug 19, issued notices to Imran Khan, Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry.
The three were asked to appear before the ECP in person on Sept 27 after written replies from two of them had been rejected as ‘unsatisfactory’.
The notices to PTI leaders had been issued on the basis of their news conferences, speeches at public meetings and TV interviews, wherein they had levelled charges against the ECP, and the PTI chairman was issued a notice for the contempt of the chief election commissioner as well.
Referring to by-elections, Mr Khan had contended that they had fought not only against these (PDM) parties but against the administration, the state machinery and the ECP.
The PTI chief also said that ECP should be ‘punished’ for the way it held the electoral process to ‘defeat’ the PTI.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2022