ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court, seeking the initiation of contempt of court charges for alleged violation of its Dec 22 directions by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and members of the administration.

The petition, moved on behalf of PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan through Advocate Shoaib Shaheen, also sought a direction from the Supreme Court to ensure a level playing field by not arresting PTI candidates, workers, and leaders. Instead, they should be allowed to participate in the election process, and their proposers and seconders should not be harassed.

On Dec 22, the Supreme Court, in its order, had directed the ECP to attend to the party’s grievances urgently and resolve these expeditiously to ensure that the electoral process remains smooth, open, transparent, free and fair. Let this exercise be completed by ECP promptly without disturbing the timelines given in the election programme because “voters must have faith in the electoral process for our democracy to succeed”, the order had stated.

The contempt of court petition named Interior Secretary Aftab Akbar Durrani, ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan, chief secretaries of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan, as well as IG Punjab Dr Usman Anwar, IG Balochistan Abdul Khalique Sheikh, IG KP Akhtar Hayat, and IG Sindh Riffat Mukhtar as respondents.

Seeks level playing field ahead of elections; Imran Khan files fresh plea to overturn Toshakhana conviction

The petition pleads for the initiation of contempt proceedings against the respondents for non-compliance with the Supreme Court’s Dec 22 orders. Besides, it urges the Supreme Court to issue appropriate orders to ensure that the appointed returning officers (ROs) and district returning officers (DROs) carry out their assigned duties in a neutral manner, in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without subjecting PTI and its candidates to any unlawful or discriminatory treatment.

The court should also issue directions to the respondents to ensure that PTI and its candidates were granted necessary permissions to conduct rallies and gatherings to campaign for the general election and that no impediment or hurdles be created in PTI’s election campaign.

Toshakhana conviction

In a related development, PTI supremo Imran Khan again filed a petition in the Toshakhana case, which the Supreme Court office had earlier returned on Saturday.

The registrar’s office had returned the appeal moved by Mr Khan through his counsel, Sardar Latif Khosa, under Article 185 of the Constitution, in which he had challenged the Dec 11, 2023, Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision that rejected a similar plea for lacking necessary requirements, including the absence of actual controversies or a chronology of past litigation.

Now, a fresh petition has been filed with a plea to overturn the Aug 5 conviction by Additional Session Judge (West) Islamabad for illegally selling state gifts.

The petition argues that the petitioner moved an application for suspension of the three-year sen­tence with the main appeal, which came up before the IHC on Aug 28.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2023

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