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ISLAMABAD: The poll body on Tuesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and former prime minister Imran Khan, and former PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry — over their non-appearance in person in the contempt case.

In the hearing of the case, four-member ECP bench comprising of Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana and former Justice Ikramullah Khan issued the non-bailable arrest warrants for Khan and Chaudhry for not showing up at the hearing.

The bench members were of the view that the PTI chief and ex-party member were previously summoned in person on different occasions but they did not appear.

Umaimah Anwar Khan, Counsel for another PTI leader Asad Umar, sought Umar’s in person appearance exemption from the bench. She informed the bench that Umar appeared before the bench on different occasions.

The bench members asked the counsel to move an application for Umar’s exemption from appearance before the bench.

The case was adjourned till 25th July.

On August 19, last year, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued contempt notices to Khan, Umar and Chaudhry for their strong public criticism of the ECP and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The case is since pending. On October 26, last year, the ECP “quietly” 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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