ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court will take up on Nov 15 the Election Com­mission of Pakistan’s (ECP) plea to consolidate and transfer all six challenges to its contempt notice against PTI leaders, including its chief Imran Khan, pending before different high courts.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, a three-judge Sup­re­me Court bench, which will take up the case, will also consist of Justice Ayesha Malik and the newly elevated Justice Athar Minallah.

The petition was moved through Advocate Sajeel Sheryar Swati on behalf of the ECP with a request to order consolidation of all six petitions before one high court instead of defending the commission’s stance over the issuance of contempt notices against PTI leaders in different high courts.

Later, the ECP again moved the apex court seeking setting aside of various high court orders in favour of the PTI leaders, including Mr Khan, who had challenged the contempt notices issued to them.

The fresh application contended that ever since the grant of interim relief to PTI leaders by different courts that the ECP could continue with its contempt matter but not pass any final order till the outcome of the petitions before the high courts, the leaders were avoiding appearance before the commission. Be­­sides, the high courts’ ord­ers had effectively brought the commission to a standstill.

It argued that the high court orders were illegal and unlawful having effectively suspended Section 10 of the Elections Act 2017 by restraining the ECP from taking ‘adverse action’ against the PTI leaders.

In the original petition, the ECP had recalled how during August and Sept­ember it had issued notices in exercise of its powers of contempt against Mr Khan, and PTI leaders Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Mian Shabbir Ismail, and Danial Khalid Khokhar. Cons equently, the ECP had asked the leaders to appear in person or through their counsel before it to explain their positions on allegedly using ‘intemperate’ language against the chief election commissioner and the ECP.

Instead, the recipients challenged the same before different high courts, including the Lahore High Court, its Rawalpindi bench, the Sindh High Court and the Islamabad High Court, on the grounds that Section 10 of the Elections Act, the statutory provision about the commission’s power to punish over contempt, was against the Constitution. The PTI leaders also sought from the high courts a declaratory relief from the charges.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2022

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