ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the plea of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for granting four months’ time to file a reply of show cause notice issued in foreign funding case, the Election Commission of Pakistan directed the party to submit its reply by May 30.
The commission remarked the respondent party is reluctant to contradict the contents of the show cause notice, which is based on sound reasoning and undeniable bank record.
Instead of filing the reply to the show-cause notice issued as a legal requirement after the commission declared that PTI had received prohibited funding, the party kept seeking time and filed an application for four-month time to reply to the notice.
The commission announced the reserved judgement on Tuesday. PTI’s lawyer Naveed Anjum appeared before the ECP bench, and contended that the commission’s scrutiny committee members and bank officials, who had provided related accounts record to the commission, should be given a chance to appear. However, the ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commission Sikandar Sultan Raja made it clear that it was the phase for forfeiture of the illegal/prohibited funds and the PTI was required to file the reply to the notice.
The bench issued the reserved order, which mentioned the Islamabad High Court’s observation, stating the right to a fair trial and due process in an administrative proceedings does not necessarily mean that the party is to be administered an oath or is to be provided an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses converting such proceedings into a trial with all its formalities. “But what it does mean is that the adjudicator has a basic obligation to extend fair treatment to the party and an opportunity to enable it to correct or contradict the findings or allegations prejudicial to such parties,” read the order.
“The learned counsel for the respondent party relies on the judgement delivered in writ petition No 2998/2022 has no binding effect because the said writ petition has been dismissed on the ground of being premature.
The present proceedings before the Commission are the implementation of the order passed by the Commission dated 02-08-2022,” stated the order.
“The respondent party is reluctant to contradict the contents of the show cause notice which is based on sound reasoning and undeniable bank record,” the order added.
The order further stated the commission has arrived at the conclusion that the respondent party is avoiding submission of detailed reply to the show cause notice and has been submitting miscellaneous application(s) to prolong the matter.
The commission is of the clear view that the present proceedings are the execution of the final order dated 02-08-2022, which still holds the field. The subject application for adducing evidence and summoning of witnesses’ has already been decided by the commission vide order dated 20-12-2022, which is sub-judice before the Honorable Islamabad High Court through writ petition no.1105/2023 and there is no stay/restraining order from the honorable court. Resultantly, the application is devoid of merit and is rejected, the order concluded with signatures of Sikandar Sultan Raja, Chairman, Nisar Ahmed Durrani Member and Shah Muhammad Jatoi Member Election Commission.
Separately, expressing its dismay over the non-appearance of PTI chief Imran Khan in the contempt case, the Election Commission asked him to appear in person in the next hearing. Likewise, another accused PTI’s senior vice-president Fawad Chaudhry was also directed to appear in person.
The ECP bench made it clear that non-bailable warrants could be issued in case of non-appearance next time.
A three-member bench of the Election Commission, headed by Sindh Member Nisar Ahmad Durrani resumed hearing in the contempt of the Election Commission and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja. Imran and Fawad were issued notices for CEC’s contempt while Asad Umar was served notice for the contempt of the electoral body.
Counsel Faisal Chaudhry appeared on behalf of Imran and Fawad Chaudhry while assistant counsel on behalf of Asad Umar. Lawyer Faisal informed the commission that the order of the Election Commission was received on Monday, rendering him little time to prepare.
At this, Member, Election Commission from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ikramullah Khan said that Imran was given an opportunity to appear in person on the last hearing, to which the lawyer replied that there were 150 cases against him.
Lawyer Faisal urged the ECP bench to adjourn the hearing till the first week of June and said, “things are not in our hands, the Election Commission should remove from the mind that we are insulting them, this case is pending with the Election Commission for six months.”