ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Teh­reek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday approached the Islamabad High Court, Rawalpindi bench, challenging the bailable warrants of his arrest issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for failure to appear before it in a contempt matter.

The ECP had issued bailable arrest warrants against the PTI chairman and leaders Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry on Jan 3.

Moved through senior counsel Faisal Fareed, the petition urged the high court to set aside ECP’s warrants of arrest for being ‘illegal, unlawful and devoid of cogent and plausible reasoning’, since the arrest warrant had been issued in violation of law and the Constitution.

The ECP had initiated contempt proceedings against the petitioner and others allegedly for using intemperate language and contemptuous remarks against the Chief Election Commission and the commission and issued notice on Sept 13, 2022.

IHC urged to set aside ECP’s warrants for being ‘illegal’

Subsequently, the petitioner submitted his reply before the ECP rai­sing several objections on the grou­nds that the notices were issued without any legal justification and foundation, the petition contended, adding that the commission however rejected the response and issued show cause notice to Aug 19.

The petitioner challenged both notices before the high court through writ petitions, which restrained the commission from taking any adverse action against him, the petition contended.

The petitioner had also challenged vires of Section-10 of the Election Act 2017, inter-alia on several grounds under which the commission initiates contempt proceedings.

During the pendency of the writ petition, Mr Khan sustained injuries in a failed assassination attempt in Wazirabad on Nov 3, 2022 when he was leading a long march from Lahore to Rawalpindi. The petitioner survived the deadly assault while sustaining gunshot wounds, the petition stated.

One of the bullets caused fracture in tibia bone at lower shin, it explained, adding the petitioner was kept in hospital for several days and later shifted to his home at Zaman Park, Lahore.

The PTI chairman is still recuperating in Lahore, according to the petition. The petitioner was not allowed to travel, because the fracture has not healed, the petition said.

During this period, the petitioner appeared before the commission through his counsel and sought exemptions.

Later on Jan 3, 2023 when the case was fixed for hearing, the petitioner filed exemption application on the medical grounds. The commission subsequently adjourned the matter for Jan 17 for further proceedings.

But in complete disregard of the law, the petitioner said, the ECP took up the matter on Jan 10, and retrospectively issued bailable warrants of his arrest for not appearing before the commission on Jan 3.

This extremely uncalled for action was illegal, unlawful, without justification and against the norms of justice and principles of propriety, the petition argued, adding the record indicated that the order announced on Jan 10 was containing the previous date of Jan 3 when no such order was issued rather on the basis of exemption petition, the matter was adjourned for further proceedings to be taken up on Jan 17, the petition contended.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2023

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