Friday June 21, 2024

ECP moves Supreme Court against PHC verdict reinstating PTI's 'bat symbol'

PTI did not hold intra-party elections as per the Election Act, ECP states in SC appeal

By Daniyal Aziz & Maryam Nawaz & Nausheen Yusuf
January 11, 2024
Security personnel stand outside the ECP office in Islamabad. — AFP/File
Security personnel stand outside the ECP office in Islamabad. — AFP/File 

PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Peshawar High Court (PHC) decision declaring the electoral watchdog's decision on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) intra-party polls null and void. 

“The Peshawar High Court decision should be declared illegal. PTI did not hold intra-party elections as per the Election Act,” the ECP stated in its plea submitted to the top court.

The petition comes after sources told Geo News that ECP had held a meeting to review the PHC decision. The sources shared that the meeting had reviewed options on whether to approach the Supreme Court or not against the PHC decision.

PTI files contempt plea against ECP 

Minutes before the plea was filed in the apex court, the PTI filed a contempt of court petition against the ECP over its failure to comply with the order issued on the party’s petition against the electoral watchdog’s decision on its election symbol and intra-party polls.

In its petition, the PTI has contended that despite the PHC orders issued a day earlier the ECP failed to upload the certificate on the PTI's intra-party elections on its website. It added that failure to do so falls under contempt of court.

The party has named Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, ECP members and secretary as the respondents in the case.

Earlier today, PTI’s chief election commissioner Niazullah Niazi had submitted a certified copy of the PHC decision to the ECP in person.

The PHC verdict

A day earlier, a two-member bench of the PHC comprising Justice Ejaz Anwar and Justice Syed Arshad Ali announced a short order on a petition jointly filed by PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan and six other party leaders, requesting the court to declare the ECP order as illegal and without jurisdiction.

The order said the ECP decision of December 22, 2023 was “illegal, without any lawful authority and of no legal effect.”

The court directed the ECP to publish on its website the certificate filed by the PTI after holding intra-party polls.

“It is further held and declared that the PTI is entitled to the election symbol strictly in terms of Sections 215 and 217 read with any other enabling provision of the Election Act 2017 and Election Rules 2017,” the order said.

After the verdict, the ECP held a brief consultative meeting on the situation arising out of the restoration of the symbol of ‘bat’ for the PTI.

Sources in the commission told The News that certain legal and constitutional aspects of the matter were discussed during the meeting.

It is pertinent that time constraint is a real challenge, as the Returning Officers (ROs) are to allocate poll symbols to the contesting candidates on January 13, who were sent the list of symbols on Tuesday and the list did not contain over a dozen symbols, including “bat”.