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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has questioned the authority of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), citing a court order, to proceed against the party chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan and Sectary-General Asad Umar in the case involving code of conduct violation related to the local government elections in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

A two-member ECP bench comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi heard the case on Monday.

During the proceedings, the PTI counsel said, the former ruling party has challenged the ECP’s decision to impose a fine of 50,000 rupees each on the PTI chairman and the secretary-general, and the court has barred the electoral body from issuing any decision in this case till the court decides the matter.

Durrani, the bench member, inquired from the defence lawyer if he had a copy of the court order.

The counsel responded that they applied for the copy, which, he said, would be available by Wednesday (May 11).

The next hearing of this case in the IHC is on June 8, the counsel said.

Jatoi, the second bench member, directed the defence lawyer to submit a copy of the IHC order before the bench. The bench then adjourned the case till Thursday, May 12.

The ECP fined Khan and Umar for addressing Lower Dir, Malakand, and Swat public rallies ahead ofthe second phase of LG elections held in March this year

The ECP, also in March this year, held consultative sessions with political parties and revised its code of conduct that barred public office-holders from visiting any area where elections are scheduled.

This did not go down well with the then federal government functionaries who were of the view that the electoral body was not empowered to revise the code of conduct after the issuance of Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 in February.

“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary under this act, rule or code of conduct or any other law, a member of Parliament (Majlis-i-Shoora), provincial assembly or elected member of local government, including member holding any other office under the constitution or any other law – may visit or address public meetings in any area or constituency during election campaign,” this ordinance reads.

The 18 districts of KP where LG elections were held in Tehsil/city and village/neighbourhood councils under the second phase on March 31 were: Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Upper Chitral, Lower Chitral, Shangla, Malakand, Kurram, Orakzai, Abbottabad, Battagram, Kolai Pallas, Mansehra, Torghar, Upper Kohistan, Lower Kohistan, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan.

On December 19 last year, the LG elections for village/neighbourhood and Tehsil/city councils were held in 17 districts of KP under the first phase: Peshawar, Buner, Bajaur, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Kohat, Karak, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Tank, Haripur, Khyber, Mohmand, Charsadda, Hangu, and Lakki Marwat.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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