ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman on Tuesday filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) saying the ECP has no power to proceed for a contempt case against him.
PTI Chairman, Imran Khan, through his counsel Babar Awan has approached the IHC requesting the court to set aside ECP’s August 10 order and declare all other contempt related proceedings void, unlawful and without lawful authority.
He has made ECP and Akbar S Babar, a disgruntled member of PTI who is petitioner in PTI’s foreign funding case, as respondents. The court is expected to take up the case on August 30 (today).
Imran’s counsel has argued in the petition that Contempt of Court Act, 1976, is repealed by the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, and contempt proceedings are carried out through the Ordinance of 2003 in Pakistan.
Previously, Babar said, power of contempt before ECP was provided through Section 103A of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1976, wherein it is clearly mentioned that the rules under contempt of court are applicable.
Recently, he maintained, amendments were also proposed by the National Assembly in election bill 2017 and powers of contempt are given to ECP through Section 10 of the bill. “If the election commission already had such powers then why section 10 is inserted in the new election bill,” he questioned.
In addition, he said, it is abundantly clear that ECP had “no powers prior to this proposed amendment.”
Babar said that ECP has no power to initiate proceedings under Article 204 (Contempt of Court) of the Constitution, adding that no party can be left remedy less and “it is a worst case of abuse of process of law and the impugned order is whimsical, malafide on law and facts as well as based on abundant bias”.
In the petition, the counsel said that Akbar S Babar had filed a petition before ECP against the PTI chairman and PTI had submitted written reply before the electoral poll body in due course of law. Later, he said, ECP initiated proceeding against Imran in terms of the order dated 16-01-2017.
In the order, Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza – chairman ECP – observed that Imran filed an application for the review on an order passed on December 1 2016 but the perusal of the application indicated “blatant disregard of the Constitutional institutions against which filthy and totally false remarks have been passed qua the Commission.”
The ECP chairman added that “no civilized person is expected to malign Constitutional institutions … it appears that the legal as well as civilized manner to be adopted in such proceedings are avoided in order to play politics with the institute from which the remedies are sought.”
He added that the commission shuns and deprecates the attitude and politics being played with the commission. Later, Imran’s counsel, Saqlain Haider, submitted an unconditional apology seeking disposal of the application as withdrawn and it was accepted.
However, Justice Raza’s order read that there is no apology on behalf of Imran and “compliance of the order dated 01-12-2016 be made on 23-01-2017.”
Subsequently, the counsel raised objections to the proceedings on grounds that the ECP has no power to proceed for its contempt’s. After hearing the petition, the ECP dismissed the same on August 10 which led to the instant petition.