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Wednesday July 24, 2024

IHC suspends ECP's order allowing transfer of election pleas to new tribunal

"Did you want to change him [judge] because he wasn't giving you undue favours," questions CJ Aamer Farooq

By Awais Yousafzai
June 24, 2024
A general view of the Islamabad High Court. — Geo News/File
A general view of the Islamabad High Court. — Geo News/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) decision allowing the transfer of various poll rigging pleas to a new tribunal in response to the petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers.

During the hearing of the case, heard by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, the court also issued a contempt of court notice to PML-N lawmaker Anjum Aqeel Khan.

The politician was further ordered to ensure his appearance before the court on every hearing.

The development comes as the electoral body's four-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, on June 10 approved the petitions from PML-N lawmakers seeking transfer of the cases, wherein their victories in the February 8 polls were challenged by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed independent candidates.

The petitions were filed by PML-N's Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Aqeel Khan and Raja Khurram Nawaz whose rival candidates in the general election were PTI-backed Muhammad Ali Bokhari, Shoaib Shaheen and Aamir Mughal.

In response, the PTI-backed independent candidates then moved the IHC against the ECP's decision, with the court initially barring the new tribunals from hearing the cases.

During the hearing today, IHC CJ Farooq directed PML-N lawmaker Anjum to read his affidavit submitted in the ECP.

"What is the meaning of the word nepotism? Explain it to me," the chief justice asked.

"My English is very weak [...] These are legal terminologies, I apologise unconditionally to the court", the politician said in response.

"This is not at all a legal terminology," CJ Farooq replied.

When asked by the chief justice whether he had signed the affidavit without reading it, the PML-N lawmaker answered in the affirmative.

Referring to the legislator's petition in the ECP for the transfer of the case to a new tribunal, the CJ questioned how the tribunal judge was biased.

"Did you want to change him [judge] because he wasn't giving you undue favours?" the CJ questioned.

"I didn't ask for any favours," Anjum replied.

"[Then] why did you accuse the judge [of bias]? Why did you ask the lawyer to submit an application [to ECP]? the chief justice inquired.

The court then adjourned the case till July 9.