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Tuesday September 27, 2022

PTI's foreign funding: IHC suspends order directing ECP to conclude case in 30 days

A division bench of the IHC issues notices to 17 political parties, directing them to submit replies by May 17

April 25, 2022
The entrance of Islamabad High Court. -APP/File
The entrance of Islamabad High Court. -APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday suspended the order directing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conclude the PTI’s foreign funding case within 30 days.

An IHC division bench, comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Babar Sattar heard the PTI’s intra-court appeal against the directive of a single bench of the court.

The bench also combined the PTI’s petition against the alleged bias of the Election Commission with the intra-court appeal.

On April 14, IHC’s Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani rejected the PTI's writ petition and directed the electoral body to decide the matter in 30 days.

In its petition, the PTI has accused the commission of targeting only the PTI and has sought the court’s directive to the ECP to also decide similar cases against the PML-N, PPP and all other political parties within a month.

It has sought the court’s directive to the ECP for scrutiny of other political parties’ accounts by the State Bank of Pakistan and to publicise the details of all parties’ accounts after the scrutiny report.

The PTI had made the ECP and 17 political parties respondents in the case. The parties include the PML-N, PPP, MQM-P, JUI-F, AML, TLP, BAP, BNP and ANP.

Today’s hearing

At the outset of today’s hearing, PTI's counsel Shah Khawar informed the court that the scrutiny committee's report was presented to the ECP. At this, the court asked what proceedings are taking place when the committee had stated that the documents could not be verified?

"The law says ECP would conduct the scrutiny of accounts of political parties every year," the IHC noted.

Justice Athar MInallah said that according to the law, the prohibited funding could be seized and inquired what the ECP is doing after the scrutiny committee report?

In response, Shah Khawar said the single bench of the IHC used strong remarks in the order. The bench even used the phrase "face the music".

"Basically this is a case of prohibited funding, not foreign funding," he argued, adding the bench exceeded its powers while announcing the verdict and directing the ECP to conclude the case in 30 days.

He said that the party had filed the petition seeking to disassociate Akbar S Babar from the proceedings. "The ECP is taking action on the basis of information collected through its own resources."

CJ AThar MInallah asked the PTI counsel to explain their grievance in the petition filed other than the ICA.

"This is a technical issue, we do not want to be discriminated against according to the law," he maintained.

"We have filed petitions against other political parties. These petitions are not being processed as is being done against us. We want the ECP to expedite the proceedings in these cases too."

At this, the chief justice said that the Election Commission is a constitutional body and suspended the order asking the ECP to decide the case within 30 days.

The IHC issued notices to the Election Commission, Akbar S Babar and 17 political parties, asking them to submit their replies by May 17 and adjourned the proceedings.