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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Monday, suspended a single bench’s order to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide the foreign funding case within 30 days.

A division bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Babar Sattar heard the ICA moved by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar against the IHC single bench of Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani’s verdict to give access to the case’s record to the PTI’s founding member Akbar S Babar and not to remove him from the proceedings.

In another petition, the PTI sought a direction to treat it at par with all the other political parties. The division bench in this petition issued notices to the respondents.

The PTI counsel mainly argued that the petitioner party has not been treated fairly and that it has been singled out. He contended that the Political Parties Order, 2002 read with Article 17(3) of the Constitution contemplates that all political parties are to be treated equally and fairly.

The counsel stressed that the ECP is a creation of the Constitution and, therefore, its proceedings are to be regulated without interference by the Court. He argued that the direction given by the single judge to decide the matter within 30 days is not in consonance with the constitutional mandate.

The IHC bench directed the registrar office to issue notices to the respondents arrayed in the appeal, as well as, the constitutional petition. It also directed the ECP secretary to ensure that all the political parties arrayed in the connected petition are duly served. “We expect that the Election Commission of Pakistan will ensure that an uneven playing field is not created by treating the political parties differently.”

“We expect the Election Commission of Pakistan to proceed with the scrutiny process by treating all the political parties equally and in accordance with law,” added the IHC bench. After issuing the direction, the IHC bench deferred the hearing till May 17.

The PTI ICA said that it is aggrieved by IHC judgment dated 01.04.2022, whereby, the its writ petition, challenging the ECP order dated 15.03.2022, was dismissed and it had also rejected two applications of the PTI dated 25.01.2022 and 31.01.2022 challenging the ECP’s decision of rejecting the party’s plea to disassociate petitioner Akbar S Babar from the foreign funding case and the application of PTI asking the ECP of not providing Babar with the party’s response on the scrutiny committee report.

The petitioner told the court that the PTI filed an application dated 31.01.2022, praying therein that no document and the reply filed by the PTI before the Respondent No1 (ECP) should be made public as the proceedings were administrative in nature. He added that in the same manner they (the PTI) filed an application dated 25.01.2022, before the ECP praying therein that the complaint made by the Respondent No2 (Akbar S Babar) be dismissed as no proof has been provided and the report submitted by the Scrutiny Committee of ECP may be heard without the presence of Respondent No2.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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