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ISLAMABAD: The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja – who seemed a little exasperated – on Thursday snubbed the counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan after he insisted that the commission cannot send a notice to his client as he is no more a Member National Assembly (MNA).

A five-member bench headed by CEC Raja comprising former Justice Nisar Durrani, member ECP from Sindh, former Justice Ikramullah, member ECP from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, former Justice Shah Mohammad Jatoi, member ECP from Balochistan and Babar Bharwana, member ECP from Punjab heard Toshakhana reference filed against PTI chairman.

The CEC who was heading the bench contended that Imran Khan is still MNA as the commission had not received any notice from National Assembly Secretariat after accepting his resignation.

Barrister Gohar Khan who appeared before the commission in place of Barrister Ali Zafar – the lead counsel for PTI chairman – who could not appear before the commission due to some personal engagements – categorically said that ECP cannot send notice to Imran Khan as he is no more an MNA.

With this, CEC Raja – whom PTI chairman accuses of being biased and hand in glove with the ruling coalition – lost his cool and told the PTI chief’s counsel “to stick to the law while talking before the commission and spare other discussions for television channels”.

“The PTI chairman [Imran Khan] is still a MNA as per Election Commission of Pakistan’s documents”, Raja declared.

He observed that “it’s repeatedly said that ECP is not accepting resignations…show us the proof if former deputy speaker Qasim Suri sent any resignations”.

“Don’t give you interpretation as the commission cannot de-notify a member unless NA secretariat sends intimates us after accepting the resignation”, he added.

Barrister Gohar Khan contended “if an assembly member announces his resignation and doesn’t go to the house, it is considered accepted.”

The bench ordered to provide a copy of the reference to the counsel for PTI chairman after he requested for it. The bench adjourned the hearing till August 22.

The reference was filed by ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha earlier this month in which he sought PTI chief’s disqualification for not disclosing the gifts received from Toshakhana.

The petition had sought to disqualify Imran Khan under Sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f) – the same provision under which ex-premier Nawaz Sharif was disqualified in 2017.

It reads: “A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) unless […] he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law”.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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