ISLAMABAD: As the threat of losing election symbol looms large over the issue of intra-party polls after a recent warning by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to the PTI, the party counsel on Friday contested CEC’s claim in this regard and sought official record as well as adjournment of the proceedings till August 8.

On the other hand, a four-member bench of the commission decided to frame the charge against PTI chairman Imran Khan in a contempt case on August 22.

Headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, a five-member bench of the commission, hearing the case of intra-party polls accepted PTI lawyer’s request and adjourned the case hearing till Aug 8.

ECP to indict Imran in contempt case on 22nd

At the hearing, Barrister Gohar Ali, representing the PTI, said the party elections were held before an amendment in its constitution.

However, the CEC claimed that the PTI amended its constitution on June 8, 2022 and conducted intra-party polls on June 10, 2022. He also said the amendment in the party constitution was later withdrawn.

Contesting the CEC’s claim, the PTI lawyer sought to get the record from the ECP and adjournment till Tuesday, which was later allowed.

Earlier in a notice issued on Wednesday, the top electoral body had summoned PTI chairman to appear before it on Friday at 10am “failing which the commission under Section 215 (5) of the Elections Act, 2017, may declare your political party ineligible to obtain election symbol for future election(s)”.

Referring to its earlier notices, the ECP said the PTI’s intra-party elections were due on June 13, 2021 under the party’s constitution.

It said the PTI was reminded to conduct intra-party elections within the timeframe provided und­er sections 208, 209 and 215 of the Elections Act, 2017, but the party failed to “provide the requisite certificate to this effect”.

The polls organising authority also said it issued a final notice to the PTI in May 2022 for ensuring the conduct of intra-party elections “on or before 13.06.2022 (extended date), with the observation that no further extension shall be allowed”.

Subsequently, the PTI submitted a copy of the amended party’s constitution that was deemed “insufficient” by the electoral body.

The ECP referred to Section 209(1) of the Elections Act, saying every registered political party is bound to provide the ECP with a certificate regarding the conduct of the intra-party elections as provided by law.

Contempt case

Also, the PTI chairman will appear before the ECP in person in a contempt case on August 22 when charges will be framed against him, according to a written order issued by a four-member bench of the commission, headed by Nisar Ahmad Durrani.

The order stated that an alleged contemnor was bound by law to appear in person on each and every date, but on the assurance of the accused person that he would appear before the bench in person, a request for exemption was accepted on Aug 2.

Published in Dawn, Aug 5th, 2023

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