The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Monday, asking the Islamabad police chief to arrest and present him before it tomorrow (Tuesday) in a contempt case.

A four-member ECP bench headed by member Nisar Durrani had ordered the release of a warrant for Imran’s arrest on July 11, following his failure to appear before the commission.

The ECP had initiated contempt proceedings against the PTI chief, party leader Asad Umar and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry last year for allegedly using “intemperate” language against the chief election commissioner and the electoral watchdog.

The commission had asked them to appear in person or through their counsels before it to explain their position.

However, instead of appearing before the ECP, the three had challenged the ECP notices and contempt proceedings in various high courts on the grounds that Section 10 of the Elections Act 2017, which is the statutory provision regarding the commission’s power to punish for contempt, was against the Constitution.

The Election Act 2017, Section 10 titled “Power to punish for contempt” states that the “election commission may exercise the same power as the high court to punish any person for contempt of court and the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 (V of 2003), or any other law pertaining to contempt of court shall have effect accordingly […]”.

The PTI leaders had also sought from the high courts a declaratory relief from the charges.

But in January, the Supreme Court had allowed the ECP to continue proceedings against Imran, Chaudhry and Umar, and on June 21, the ECP had decided to frame charges against Imran, Fawad and Umar in July.

At the July 11 hearing, none of the three appeared before the commission despite being summoned, following which the ECP had issued arrest warrants for Fawad and Imran.

It had, however, accepted a plea by Umar’s lawyer to allow him an exemption from the hearing.

The ECP issued a warrant for Imran’s arrest today, stating that he was “required in the contempt of the commission’s proceedings initiated in terms of Section 10 of the Elections Act, 2017”.

The warrant, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said Imran had failed to appear before the ECP even after he was served notices and bailable warrants for him were issued on January 16 and March 2.

Hence, the commission, in exercise of powers vested in it under Section 4(2) of the Elections Act, 2017 and other enabling provisions of the Act and Rules, has issued a non-bailable arrest warrant“ for Imran.

The ECP said in the warrant it authorised and required the Islamabad Inspector General to arrest Imran and produce him before the ECP on July 25 (tomorrow) at 10am.

Following the development, the PTI said on Twitter that the party chief would appear before the ECP tomorrow.

Imran approaches LHC against Pemra

Separately, the PTI chairman also approached the Lahore High Court, seeking its intervention to declare that “the blanket de facto complete ban and prohibition on the broadcast of any content related to the petitioner (Imran) on television and all electronic media is arbitrary, contrary to fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution and without any lawful authority”.

The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was fixed for hearing for tomorrow (Tuesday).

The petition argued that the LHC had previously suspended the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) orders to ban the live telecast of Imran’s speeches and press talks but the authority was not complying with the court’s orders and pressuring TV channels not to show the PTI chief.

It urged the court to declare the “de facto ban” illegal and set it aside and direct the respondents to ensure that media outlets provide fair representation to the PTI chief and are not stopped from doing so in the future by “any authority” or any action against them.

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