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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s counsel on Tuesday adopted the stance that it is bizarre that the Election Commission of Pakistan ECP) disqualified the former prime minister for the assets that he legally purchased and lawfully sold.

A single bench of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard a petition of the PTI chairman against his disqualification in Toshakhana reference.

Barrister Ali Zafar, appearing on behalf of the PTI chief, argued that Imran Khan was elected as MNA from NA-95 Mianwali in July 2018 but, through an illegal order of the ECP dated 21/10/2022, the ECP disqualified him from this seat under Article 63(1) (p) of the Constitution. The decision of the speaker of National Assembly to send the reference and order of the ECP is unconstitutional and void as initio, he submitted.

He contended that the speaker without any document or evidence whatsoever accepted the application filed by a few MNAs and filed reference before the ECP to disqualify Imran Khan under Article 62(1)(f). The ECP then disqualified Imran Khan from the seat.

Barrister Zafar submitted that when the Speaker had sent the question to the ECP whether Imran Khan is disqualified under Article 62(1) (f), the only answer ECP could give in law was that since there is no declaration from a Court of Law, Imran Khan is not disqualified under Article 62(1) (f). He pointed out that in this case no issue under Article 63(1) was involved or existed at the time of the Speaker’s decision or even when ECP was called upon to answer the question raised in the reference.

He said that the Election Act does not give any power or jurisdiction to the ECP to disqualify anyone on the ground of misdeclaration or concealment of assets in the statement. Sections 137, 167, 173, 174, and 190 of the Election Act very clearly provide that in case ECP finds out that there is any material misdeclaration in the asset statement by any Member then at worst it can file a complaint before the Tribunal who, after conducting a proper trial, including evidence, will decide the matter.

He contended that if a conviction is recorded by the Session Judge after a proper trial then the ECP under Section 232 of the Election Act can disqualify a Member. He informed that in this case, ECP has on one hand, sent the matter to the trial court to find out if there has been a misdeclaration, while on the other hand has itself decided that there has been an intentional misdeclaration and therefore, Imran Khan is disqualified.

He further told the Court that he had filed all the documents before the ECP, including the evidence, in the shape of challan forms that Imran Khan had paid for the gifts and deposited the money in Government Treasury and only then legally obtained the gifts. He pointed out that some of the gifts thereafter were legally sold.

Barrister Zafar submitted that under Section 137 only the assets, which were available on 30th June of the year, had to be shown and since some of the gifts were sold in 2018-19, it was only the proceeds of the sale as were available as on 30th June 2019 that had to be declared. He submitted that the proceeds of sale of the assets were duly declared in the asset statements of 2018-19 along with the bank account in which the sale proceeds were available as of 30th June 2019.

The ECP’s counsel apprised about initiating the proceedings of removing PTI Chief Imran Khan from the party’s leadership after his disqualification in the Toshakhana reference. He further said that the district and sessions court in Islamabad had reserved the verdict on a plea filed by the ECP in the same case against Khan for allegedly indulging in corrupt practices, which the former premier denies.

Later, the bench deferred the case until December 20.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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