Saturday April 20, 2024

PTI prohibited funding case: IHC to announce verdict today

By Awais Yousafzai
February 02, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) verdict on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition against the decision of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on the prohibited funding case will be announced today (Thursday).

In August 2022, the poll organising authority issued a show-cause notice to the PTI with regard to the prohibited funding case. The former ruling party had challenged the notice in the IHC.

Earlier this month, a larger bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Miangul Hassan and Justice Babar Sattar had reserved its verdict on a petition against the decision of the electoral authority on January 11.

During the hearing, the court had observed that the ECP’s responsibility was merely to do what the Constitution permitted, which was limited to the confiscation of funds.

While the ECP during the hearing claimed that it had no power to change its decision, the court had observed that should the PTI present in the court satisfactory evidence proving the legitimacy of funds, the amount would not be confiscated.

The PTI counsel had argued during that hearing that the ECP had declared PTI a foreign-aided party and had rejected the declaration of PTI chief Imran Khan as false.

“Political parties finances are looked after by a chartered accountant,” he argued. “The ECP has targeted the PTI.”

The chief justice had said that the ECP had not made any declaration in its report. “The decision of the ECP is sometimes called an order, sometimes a report and sometimes just an opinion. In my opinion, this was a fact-finding report,” he said.

However, the ECP’s legal representative insisted that it was not just a report but a decision. “The ECP could not have issued a show-cause notice without giving a decision,” he said.

The chief justice said: “Are you afraid that Imran Khan will be disqualified on this issue? The ECP will not make any declaration in this show-cause notice, nor will take criminal action against Khan. Its authority extends only to the extent of confiscation of funds.”

Moreover, the court in the previous hearing had also criticised the ECP for taking the matter to the federal government, as doing so had led to a number of cases being registered against PTI by the FIA.

Now, if the court rules in favour of PTI, the notice will be returned and the cases against the party will be withdrawn. It is also likely that the court will advise the electoral body to reassess the matter.