• Sun. Mar 12th, 2023

PTI prohibited funding case verdict today

Former prime minister Imran Khan (centre) addresses his supporters during an anti-government march in Muridke on October 30, 2022. — AFP
Former prime minister Imran Khan (centre) addresses his supporters during an anti-government march in Muridke on October 30, 2022. — AFP

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) is set to announce the verdict in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) prohibited funding case today (Thursday).

The court had reserved its verdict on the party’s petition against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) ruling last month.

In August 2022, the poll organising authority had issued a show-cause notice to the PTI in the prohibited funding case. The former ruling party had challenged the notice in the IHC.

The verdict on PTI’s plea was reserved by a larger bench of the IHC — comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Miangul Hassan and Justice Babar Sattar — on January 11.

During the hearings, the court had observed that the ECP’s responsibility was merely to do what the Constitution permitted — which was limited to the confiscation of funds.

The ECP had claimed that it had no power to change its decision, while the court had observed that should the PTI present satisfactory evidence in court proving the legitimacy of the funds, the amount would not be confiscated.

The PTI counsel had argued that the ECP had declared PTI a “foreign-aided” party and had rejected the declaration of PTI chief Imran Khan as false.

“Political parties’ finances are looked after by a chartered accountant,” the counsel had argued, adding that “the ECP targeted PTI.”

The IHC chief justice had said that the ECP had not made any declaration in its report. “The decision of the ECP is sometimes called an order, sometimes a report and sometimes just an opinion. In my opinion, this was a fact-finding report,” he had said.

However, the ECP’s legal representative insisted that it was not just a report but a decision.

“The ECP could not have issued a show-cause notice without giving a decision,” he had said. To which the chief justice had said: “Are you afraid that Imran Khan will be disqualified on this issue? The ECP will not make any declaration in this show-cause notice, nor will it take criminal action against Khan. Its authority extends only to the extent of confiscation of funds.”

Moreover, the court, at the previous hearing, had also criticised the ECP for taking the matter to the federal government, as doing so had led to a number of cases being registered against the PTI by the FIA.

Now if the court rules in favour of the PTI, the notice will be returned and the cases against the party will be withdrawn. It is also likely that the court will advise the electoral body to reassess the matter.

PTI’s petition

On August 10 last year, the PTI had challenged the ECP ruling in the IHC, seeking annulment of the order in the prohibited funding case.

In his petition filed with the IHC, PTI Additional Secretary-General Omar Ayub had asked the court to not only nullify the August 2 ruling, but also revoke the ECP’s show-cause notice sent to PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

The petitioner said he was “grossly aggrieved” by the fact-finding report — which revealed that the PTI had obtained funds from foreign sources — and demanded that it be declared “perverse, incorrect and in excess of authority and jurisdiction”.

In his petition, Ayub had also asked the court to “declare that any action suggested by the ECP is beyond its authority and that no action can be taken on the basis of a fact-finding report”.

The PTI also made the ECP a party in the case.

ECP’s ruling

On August 2, 2022, the ECP, in a unanimous verdict, had announced that the PTI received prohibited funding. The case was earlier referred to as the “foreign funding” case, but later the election commission accepted the PTI’s plea to refer to it as the “prohibited funding” case.

The commission found that donations had been taken from America, Australia, Canada and the UAE.

The PTI received funds from 34 individuals and 351 businesses, including companies, the ECP verdict had stated.

As many as thirteen unidentified accounts had also come to light, the commission had stated in the verdict, adding that hiding accounts was a “violation” of Article 17 of the Constitution.

The funds were also in violation of Article 6 of the Political Parties Act.

Moreover, the ECP had found that Khan submitted a false nomination form and that the affidavit on the party’s accounts was also not authentic.

Source link

Leave a Reply