ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lost its elections symbol as the Supreme Court set aside the impugned judgment of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) which restored the “cricket bat” to PTI.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarat Hilali on Saturday after hearing the arguments at 07:00 pm had reserved the judgment, which was announced at 11:30 pm.

The bench upheld the verdict of the Election Commission of Pakistan that there were many irregularities in PTI intra-party elections. In a lengthy proceeding spanning over 12 hours, the PTI counsel Barrister Ali Zafar, Hamid Khan, lawyer of Akbar S Babar and ECP Makhdoom Ali Khan made detailed submission. During the proceeding, Chairman PTI Barrister Ali Gohar, who was present in the courtroom, was informed that someone covering their faces entered his house in Islamabad and had harassed his son and nephew, and ransacked the house. Gohar then apprised the bench about this incident.

PTI gets ‘bat’ as PHC declares ECP order ‘illegal’

Upon that, the chief justice directed Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman to talk to the secretary Ministry of Interior and Inspector General of Police, Islamabad, and bring this incident to their knowledge.

The IGP, later, appeared before the court and submitted that the police shared with him that there are some proclaimed offenders in that area and mistakenly the police entered Barrister Gohar’s house, but when the police realised the house belongs to Barrister Gohar then they left the house.

The chief justice told the IGP these things should not happen in future as every citizen is entitled protection under the constitution. He ordered the IGP to visit Barrister Gohar’s house immediately along with him.

According to the media, the IGP visited Barrister Gohar’s house and assured that it would not happen again.

The bench noted that the Peshawar High Court (PHC)’s judgment is self-contradictory. Justice Mazhar noted that the PHC without striking down Section 215 of the Election Act, 2017, said that the ECP does not have power to scrutinise the intra-party elections of the political parties, if the certificate of it (elections) is not provided to the Commission. Makhdoom Ali Khan, representing ECP, said that the PHC has made Section 205 redundant and absurd.

The chief justice inquired from the ECP’s counsel that it is alleged that the Commission is applying different standards and treatment with different political parties differently, and only targeting the PTI and having discrimination with it.

Makhdoom said that the Commission has been asking the PTI since 2021 to hold intra-party elections. He said that action against the PTI was taken on its own motion in 2021, but last year it was on the complaints of the PTI’s own members.

He further said that the ECP had proceeded against 13 parties and de-listed them for not holding elections within the party.

Justice Hilali then questioned the report, submitted before the bench, stating that Awami National Party, which also did not hold elections was only fined Rs20,000 and was given time till May 2024 to hold party election. Makhdoom replied that according to the statute, the intra-party elections are to be held after every five years, and ANP still has time, therefore, was allowed to hold party elections in May.

Makhdoom contended that the PHC’s judgment itself says that if there is factual controversy in the parties elections then it would not go into the ECP’s jurisdiction. The PTI has informed the PHC about only one petition, which it had filed before the Lahore High Court but did not tell about the second one.

Akbar S Babar, Mehmood Khan, Noreen Farooq, Bilal Azhar Rana, Muhammad Muzamil Sindhu, Ahmed Hassan, Muhammad Yousaf, and Asadullah Khan, appeared before the bench and informed that they are still members of the PTI and on 1st December 2023 they visited the party’s Central Secretariat, in Islamabad, for obtaining nomination papers to contest the PTI intra-party elections, but they were not provided the nomination papers. They said; “We were, we are and we will remain the members of the PTI.”

Advocate Hassan Cheema, representing Babar stated that the PTI made factually wrong statement before the PHC that they were not its members. The chief justice asked a number of times from the PTI lawyers to show that Akbar S Babar is not a member of the PTI and joined some other party. They, however, denied membership of Babar, but failed to furnish any proof in support of their contentions.

The chief justice said if there will be democracy within the parties then everything would be normal, but if the parties are run by one man then they run in trouble. “If we are asking for democracy in the country then there should be democracy in the political parties,” the CJP added.

Hamid Khan, appearing on behalf of PTI contended that a question was asked yesterday why the intra-party polls of PTI were conducted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He stated that the Islamabad administration did not provide security to the PTI, adding its leaders and workers were harassed and picked up. He said that in KPK, the courts’ orders are implemented, but IHC and LHC orders are flouted by the administration.

He alleged that the Commission is not treating every political party equally and exercising its power discriminately.

At the onset of the hearing, Barrister Ali Zafar defended the PHC’s judgment, restoring the “cricket bat” for PTI. He said that if the PTI had not held intra-party elections then the ECP could have taken action against it, but on minor irregularities it cannot deny “bat” to the party. The ECP cannot go into nitty-gritty. However, the chief justice said that the ECP said that the PTI did not hold the party’s elections, adding if the apex court holds that the intra-party elections were in accordance with the PTI constitution and are valid then it would get the “bat” symbol.

Barrister Zafar argued that taking away “bat” would disenfranchise hundreds and thousands of people, and would deprive millions of PTI voters from casting their votes in the upcoming elections. He said that intra-party election (IPE) is the civil dispute, therefore, in the summary proceeding, the ECP could not hold that PTI is not entitled to the “bat” symbol. The chief justice said that the ECP is a constitutional body, adding the court of law can be abolished or its power can be reduced, but not the Election Commission.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


Comments are closed.

Twadi pehn di Jan 14, 2024 04:23am
by the type of questions the Supreme Court was asking it was already clear that establishment has dictated the terms to them. long live boot polishers.
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zh Jan 14, 2024 07:01am
PTI should boycott the general's election and ask people to abstain.
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Aan Jan 14, 2024 07:52am
Congratulations to all democratic parties particularly PMLN ! Never seen in Pakistani history the worst treatment made to any political party and outcome will be that no body will accept the results and uncertainty will be continue.
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KU Jan 14, 2024 11:00am
This decision is actually a reminder that the colonial rule (after the British Raj) continues unabated in the hands of crooks most despicable. Look around at the plight of our economic progress or welfare of the people, its the only thing consistently disappointing for the last 75 years. But the like the British Raj, our leaders are rich beyond means and cannot be questioned.
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Mustafa Jan 14, 2024 12:48pm
Talking about Democracy and doing party election with dictatorship mindset .... PTI undermined the song of democracy...
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Abdul Sheikh Jan 14, 2024 01:21pm
Don’t forget the last hope, time to pin hope with another hope.
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Aslam Tanoli Jan 14, 2024 02:10pm
Fake elections
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Johnny Walker Jan 14, 2024 03:20pm
Now that the Bat has been destroyed, will the Qazi court look into the blatant destruction of the Constitution by the prolonged interim governments in the center and two provinces? I very much doubt if they have the guts to open this matter.
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Sumaroo Jan 14, 2024 03:48pm
"PTI loses ‘bat’ as SC restores ECP order" The crooks, corrupt & Compromised Inc in not willing to give up power...going full throttle to push country towards a very bloody civil war...likes of which generals cannot envision!
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Sumaroo Jan 14, 2024 03:49pm
@Aslam Tanoli, What can be expected from compromised!
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mustafa Jan 14, 2024 04:57pm
@Twadi pehn di, talk about performance's not about what we like or not .. seat of PM is about performance at the end of day (doesn't matter how you get there) ...poor performance has no place there .. ruined economy completely and then blaming USA, Bajwa or anyone else is most absurd thing ... Where are factories??? Where are mega projects ???? why PESCO (PESHAWAR) is number one in BIJLI CHORI ??? For Me :- Those who can bring Money is Right, I don't care if they are democrats, dictators or technocrats... Money, Money and Money ...
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