ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday allowed the election tribunal, superseded by a presidential ordinance, to resume hearing election petitions regarding the three constituencies of Islamabad, also issuing a contempt of court notice to PML-N lawmaker Anjum Aqeel Khan for using “derogatory language” against the presiding judge of the tribunal, namely Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri.

On the application of the PML-N candidates —Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Raja Khurram Nawaz, and Anjum Aqeel — the Election Commission of Pakistan had transferred the election plea from a tribunal led by Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri to another tribunal led by retired justice Shakoor Paracha in light of an ordinance promulgated by the president, which allowed retired judges to head election tribunals.

The decision was challenged in the IHC by the PTI runner-up candidates, Shoaib Shaheen, Mohammad Ali Bukhari, and Amir Mughal. At the last hearing, Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said Mr Aqeel used contemptuous language in his transfer application and asked him to appear before the bench on June 24 (Monday).

In the application, Anjum Aqeel stated that he has “reasonable apprehension that he will not get justice”, the tribunal “showing unnecessary haste”, the acts of the tribunal “have a sniff of bias in the proceedings” and the judge is not acting in an impartial and unbiased manner.“

The applicant also stated that “the worthy election tribunal at very inception of the election petition vividly reflects the partisan, biasness, partiality, favouritism, nepotism, predilection and parti-pris, which clearly demonstrates that the right of fair trial of the applicant is being prejudiced and at stake”.

During the hearing, Justice Farooq asked MNA Aqeel to prove the allegation of nepotism, favouritism, and biasness against the judge. “You must prove these allegations quoting the orders of the election tribunal,” said the IHC chief justice.

Anjum Aqeel replied that he could not explain these being legal terminologies and tendered an apology.

Subsequently, the judge issued a show cause notice to Khan and directed him to reply in seven days. He also directed him to appear at each and every hearing.

The court also suspended the operation of the presidential ordinance under which ECP constituted the tribunal comprising a retired judge and ordered that the commission transfer the record to the previous tribunal comprising the IHC judge.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2024

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