ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over maintainability of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) petition challenging its fact finding report in the prohibited funding case against the party.

A three-member bench of IHC headed by Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Babar Sattar conducted hearing of the petition filed by the PTI additional secretary general Omar Ayub through his counsels former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan, Shah Khawar Advocate and Faisal Fareed Advocate and prayed to the court to declare the ECP decision dated August 2 as illegal. During the hearing, Justice Babar asked PTI counsel Anwar Mansoor to share his reservations regarding investigation against the PTI and remarked that it is not the 1970s that a party could be dissolved in a bout of madness.

The PTI lawyer alleged that the FIA was harassing the party leaders in the wake of ECP report and said that he could have taken his case to the election watchdog once again but the observations made by the ECP were beyond its mandate. He further argued that since the ECP was not a tribunal, it could not give declarations against PTI Chairman Imran Khan. However, Justice Aamer said that the court could not bar the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from acting against the PTI on the basis of facts even if the ECP report challenged by the PTI in the case is set aside. He said that FIA would only determine if any criminality was involved in this case. Then, Anwar Mansoor informed the bench about the case saying that the funding case was taken to the ECP by a former PTI leader and the matter also came under consideration in the Supreme Court (SC) in 2017 during the hearing of the Hanif Abbasi case. He further said that in 2018, the ECP started scrutiny when the SC said that all political parties should be scrutinized by the election watchdog. But, he claimed that only the PTI was being targeted.

Court says it is not 1970s | Issues notices to ECP over maintainability of PTI plea | PTI lawyer says FIA harassing party leaders after ECP report

Argues that since ECP is not a tribunal, it can’t give declarations against PTI Chairman Imran Khan

The counsel also read out the SC ruling wherein the ECP was asked to “act without discrimination”. He said that he had placed the “entire record” before the ECP to show that nothing was concealed from the ECP. Mansoor added that in 2018, scrutiny of the accounts of all parties started, but the ECP only took action against PTI and applied the Political Parties Ordinance (PPO) Act 2002, but the scrutiny committee relied on a different laws for its report. He said that $13,000 came from the joint account of one Nassar married to Ramita Shetty, but the commission itself assumed that half of the money was from Ramita Shetty and the other half from her husband.

 

The lawyer also alleged that PTI’s agents were dubbed as foreign companies in the ECP report. He further said that the law did not say that funds were only to be taken from individuals and not organizations.

The court observed that the law does mention that funds were to be taken from individuals only. It added that do you seek removal of the observation of the Election Commission? This is only a report, not an action of the ECP, the court said. It added that so far only a show cause notice had been issued.

The PTI lawyer responded that this was an action against the Imran-led party as the ECP declared it a matter of Article 17 while the federal government and FIA are taking action against the party on the basis of this report. He maintained that they wanted that any observation made by the ECP beyond its mandate, needs to be suspended.

Later, the bench issued pre-admission notices and deferred the hearing till August 24 for further proceedings in this matter.