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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday extended its restraining order to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from taking action against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and former Minister Asad Umar for allegedly violating the election code of conduct by attending a public gathering in Lower Dir while holding public office.

A single bench of Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard the petition moved by Khan and Umar challenging the ECP’s notices against them for attending a public gathering in Lower Dir.

The IHC had previously restrained the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from taking action against the then Prime Minister Khan and the then Federal Minister Umar for allegedly violating the election code of conduct by attending a public gathering in Lower Dir. The bench had observed that the Commission could issue notices over a breach of law but could not impose a fine or disqualify candidates.

During the hearing, the associate lawyer of Khan and Umar appeared before the court and sought adjournment due to the non-availability of the counsels representing Khan and Umar.

Accepting the plea, the IHC bench adjourned the hearing till August 22 for further proceedings.

The ECP on March 11 had issued notices to the then prime minister and several other PTI leaders for attending a public gathering in Lower Dir. Both the petitioners moved the IHC against the notices and prayed before the court to nullify the same.

Previously, petitioners’ counsel Barrister Ali Zafar informed the IHC bench that on February 19, the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 had been promulgated that allowed public officeholders to partake in election campaigns.

In their petition moved through Ali Zafar advocate, they raised different questions of law involved in this case including whether the ECP can amend and nullify the provisions of the Elections Act, 2017 by issuing a Code of Conduct of elections, whether in case of conflict, the provisions of the Elections Act, 2017, overrule any provisions of the Code of Conduct, whether the Commission has power to legislate under the Constitution, whether the Commission has power to declare a provision of Elections Act, 2017 as ultra vires and void of the Constitution and whether the Commission is bound by the law namely the Elections Act 2017 and require to follow it in letter and spirit.

The petitioners adopted that under the Constitution and the law, the Commission has no jurisdiction or authority or power to declare Section 181-A to be ultra vires the Constitution, illegal, void or of no effect. They stated that in the order dated 10/03/2022, the ECP stepped into the shoes of the legislature and considered itself as a supra constitutional legislative forum which can, on its own, decide to supersede and ignore law by passing a Code of Conduct.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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