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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday issued a show cause notice to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and a second show cause notice to Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati for not appearing before the electoral body in the contempt case.

A two-member ECP bench comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi resumed hearing of the case for the second consecutive day.

Neither the Information minister nor his counsel appeared before the court, prompting the bench to issue a show cause notice to Chaudhry, wherein, he was directed to submit a reply by November 16.

Muhammad Zubair, a representative of Railways Minister Swati told the ECP bench that the minister appeared before the bench earlier on Tuesday and he could not appear on Wednesday due to roads blockade.

“Roads are blocked due to protests and all that I faced great inconvenience in getting here,” he said.

Durrani, the Member ECP told Swati’s counsel that Swati was being served a second show cause notice for holding a presser, against the ECP, jointly with Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Affairs Advisor Babar Awan.

The first show cause notice was issued to Swati along with the information minister, the member ECP added.

Swati was also directed to submit a reply to the second show cause notice by November 16, while he was directed on Tuesday to submit a reply to the first show cause notice by November 11. Later, the information minister told journalists that he went to attend the ECP hearing.

“But, by the time I reached there, the hearing had ended,” he said.

During the hearing of the case earlier on Tuesday, the ECP bench rejected Swati’s request to be given a month to submit a reply in the contempt case, and gave him 15 days for the purpose.

The Information minister was summoned for Wednesday’s hearing.

On September 10, the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs had a tumultuous session with the treasury members having categorically expressed their displeasure with the ECP for repeatedly opposing the federal government’s efforts to launch Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

“This ECP is good for nothing. It always rigged polls. It took bribes for that purpose - such institutions should be set on fire,” Swati said in a hard-hitting diatribe against the ECP.

The minister added, “The ECP is making a mockery of the government’s efforts to hold free and fair elections. It would not be allowed to undermine democracy.”

The minister even suggested that the ECP should be “disbanded” and the Constitution should be amended to allow the government to hold general polls.

Seemingly embarrassed by the minister’s unexpected verbal offensive, the ECP officials walked out of the committee proceedings.

Later in the day, Fawad Chaudhry accused Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja of acting as a “mouthpiece for the opposition.”

On September 14, the ECP decided to seek proof from Swati regarding his allegations against the ECP.

It also decided to issue notices to Swati and Chaudhry for their public outbursts against the ECP and the CEC respectively.

A source in the ECP told Business Recorder that the ECP decided to initiate proceedings against the two federal ministers in exercise of its powers under Section 10 of Elections Act 2017. This section grants the ECP the powers of a high court to punish for contempt.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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