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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Tuesday, summoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, in person, on the coming Tuesday, in the case involving alleged contempt of the electoral body on part of the PTI chief.

A four-member ECP bench comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana and former Justice Ikramullah Khan heard the case. In the proceedings, the bench asked the defence side that the PTI chief was summoned on a previous occasion but he did not appear.

The defence counsel said Khan’s cases were pending in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and Lahore High Court (LHC).

The bench members stated that the high courts did not stop the ECP from proceeding ahead in the case.

The defence lawyer stated that two other PTI leaders; Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry, were arrested by the authorities and were, hence, unable to appear before the bench.

Following the arguments, the bench summoned Khan, in person, on May 23. On August 19, last year, the ECP issued contempt notices to the three PTI leaders for their strong public criticism of the ECP and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on different occasions. The case is pending since then.

On October 26, last year, the ECP amended the election rules to authorise its officers to issue contempt notices to the alleged “contemnors.”

The electoral entity, by amending the rules, also empowered itself to grant bail to persons arrested on the charges of the ECP contempt.

The ECP made these amendments in exercise of its powers under Section 239 of Elections Act 239, according to a notification issued then.

The electoral body amended Section 4(6) of the Election Rules 2017.

This section deals with procedure related to the contempt of the ECP. “Where the commission is satisfied by an affidavit or otherwise, that the respondent is, or, as the case may be, respondents are avoiding service, it may direct issuance of bailable or non-bailable warrants for his or their arrest,” it says.

The ECP added the following provision in the aforementioned section.

“Provided that in case of bailable warrant, the commission may, in its discretion, by endorsement on warrant and subject to its satisfaction, direct the police officer(s) to take such bail or security if such person is ready and willing to give bail and security required by such direction and shall forward the bond to the commission.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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