ECP defers Imran, Fawad’s indictment in contempt case

Published December 19, 2023
The combo photo shows ex-premier Imran Khan and former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry. — File
The combo photo shows ex-premier Imran Khan and former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry. — File

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday once again deferred the indictment of ex-premier Imran Khan and former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry in a case pertaining to contempt of the electoral body and the chief election commissioner (CEC).

A four-member bench of the ECP arrived at the Adiala Jail early morning, where both Imran and Fawad are incarcerated, to charge sheet the politicians.

The ECP had on Dec 6 decided conduct Imran and Fawad’s jail trial in light of the interior ministry’s denial to produce the former premier before the commission, citing security concerns.

Last year, the electoral body had initiated contempt proceedings against the PTI chief, former party leader Asad Umar and Fawad for allegedly using “intemperate” language against the chief election commissioner and the electoral watchdog.

However, instead of appearing before the ECP, the three had challenged the ECP notices and contempt proceedings in various high courts arguing 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 PTI leaders had also sought from the high courts a declaratory relief from the charges.

But in January, the Supreme Court allowed the ECP to continue proceedings against Imran, Fawad and Umar, and on June 21, the ECP decided to frame charges against the trio, which has yet to be done.

Fawad was arrested from Islamabad on Nov 4 in a corruption case and has been in custody ever since.

At the previous hearing, the electoral watchdog had announced that it would conduct indictment proceedings against the former premier and the ex-information minister in jail and asked the Ministry of Interior to make necessary arrangements in this regard.

In the latest development today, the ECP bench deferred the indictment and adjourned the hearing till December 27.

Speaking to media outside Adiala Jail, Imran’s lawyer Shoaib Shaheen said Imran’s petition challenging the jail trial was pending before the Lahore High Court. He contended that orders for the trial were passed without any lawful authority.

“This is an open trial case, only the place of hearing has changed,” he said, adding that the case could be heard transparently only when the media was present.

Shaheen further demanded that the media, public, family members and lawyers should be allowed to attend the indictment proceedings. He also complained that Imran’s legal team was not allowed to enter the jail today with the complete case record.

“Our files were checked for half an hour as we waited. Even the ECP members left after waiting,” the lawyer claimed, adding that the indictment was deferred because neither the PTI counsels nor the advocate general could reach in time for the hearing.

“Where is the level playing field when we can’t discuss the case with Imran?” he asked. “All other political parties except the PTI have been allotted their election symbols. The ECP is responsible for stopping pre-poll rigging,” Shaheen added.

Fawad files plea seeking open trial

Separately, Fawad, through his counsel Faisal Chaudhry, submitted a plea to the ECP today seeking an open trial for the contempt proceedings.

“The proceedings in central jail Adiala are not open, transparent and are in square violation of law and the Constitution,” the former PTI leader contended.

He highlighted that “the applicant under article 10-A read with all other enabling provisions of law and Constitution has a fundamental right to have fair trial and due process”.

Fawad said the ECP had a constitutional duty to extend the constitutional rights to the applicant in letter and spirit.

“It is also strange and shocking that the learned members of the ECP have decided to start proceedings in jail, that in the applicant’s firm opinion is not in accordance with the stature and respect of a constitutional body such like,” he said in the plea.

Fawad alleged that “to victimise the political opponents the trials behind the jail walls have become the order of the day”.

“The closed-door trial is highly objectionable, without basking of law and in complete derogation of basic Constitutional rights of the applicant as well as in complete negation of international law fundamental human rights and international treaties,” he added.

Opinion

Editorial

KP’s ‘power struggle’
Updated 21 Jun, 2024

KP’s ‘power struggle’

Instead of emboldening protesters, CM Gandapur should encourage his provincial subjects to clear their due bills and ensure theft is minimised.
Journalist’s murder
21 Jun, 2024

Journalist’s murder

ANOTHER name has been added to the list of journalists murdered in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Khalil Jibran’s vehicle...
A leaner government?
21 Jun, 2024

A leaner government?

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has reiterated his government’s ‘commitment’ to shutting down ministries...
Kindness needed
Updated 20 Jun, 2024

Kindness needed

This year’s World Refugee Day theme — solidarity with refugees — includes keeping our borders accessible and addressing the hurdles they face.
Fitch’s budget note
20 Jun, 2024

Fitch’s budget note

PAKISTAN’S ongoing economic crisis is multifaceted. At one end, the government must pursue stabilisation policies...
Cruelty to animals
20 Jun, 2024

Cruelty to animals

TWO recent incidents illustrate the immense cruelty many in this country subject voiceless animals to. In the first...