Ex-PTI chairman challenges disqualification in LHC

The founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) against his disqualification for five years by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) following his conviction in the Toshakhana case.

Justice Shujaat Ali Khan will take up the former PTI chairman’s plea on Friday.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Ali Zafar – the former prime minister’s counsels – filed the petition with the high court on behalf of their client on Thursday. The petitioner has made the ECP party in the case.

In his petition, the former PTI chairman states that the ECP had on August 8, 2023, disqualified him as a member of the National Assembly, arguing that the ECP had, in a bid to keep him out of politics, acted in haste, making an unlawful action.

The petitioner claims that the allegations levelled against him were all baseless, adding that he desires to participate in next general elections for which the date has already been notified [by the ECP] on orders of the Supreme Court.

The former premier has requested the court to void ECP’s decision of his disqualification for five years and stay the notification till this court takes a decision on his petition.

Back in August, the ECP had, in a notification, cited an Islamabad trial court’s order and disqualified the former PTI chairman under Article 63(1)(h) of the Constitution read with Section 232 of the Elections Act, 2017.

A day earlier, the trial court had, while hearing ECP’s complaint against the PTI chairman, sentenced him to three years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs0.1 million for concealing details of Toshakhana gifts.

The trial court had found the former PTI chief guilty of “corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from the national exchequer wilfully and intentionally”.

“He cheated while providing information of gifts he obtained from Toshakhana which later proved to be false and inaccurate. His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt,” the court had stated in its order.

Following the trial court’s verdict the PTI founder technically stood disqualified from holding any public office for five years under Article 63(1)(h) of the Constitution, which stipulates, “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Parliament if he has been, on conviction for any offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.”

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