ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a petition moved against judiciary like powers given to the commission.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition filed by Advocate Daniyal Khokhar through senior lawyer and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Babar Awan.

The IHC bench also issued notices to the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to assist the court in this matter and deferred the hearing for two weeks.

In his petition, he challenged sections 4, 9 and 10 of the Election Act, 2017, seeking annulment of judiciary like powers given to the commission while the petitioner also requested the court to restrain the ECP from exercising its judicial powers till the final decision of the petition.

During the hearing, petitioner’s counsel prayed that the power of the ECP to punish and issue orders for contempt should be declared null and void. He adopted the stance that there are five constitutional high courts and the Supreme Court in the country and in presence of these courts, no other state institution could be equal to the constitutional courts.

Therefore, he requested the court that sections 4, 9, and 10 of the ECP Act 2017 should be declared null and void.

The IHC Chief Justice said that the Supreme Court has interpreted ECP’s powers in a recent decision. He added that a two-member bench of the apex court has said that the Election Commission is not a court but it can exercise its powers. He also directed the counsel to assist the court that how the petitioner is an affected party in this regard.

In the petition, Khokhar also urged the court to abolish the provisions which allowed the commission to punish contempt and issue directions. He requested the court to seek the details of salaries and benefits of the commission’s employees, and if they were found to be equal to the constitutional courts, they should be declared illegal.