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Wednesday May 22, 2024

PTI moves SC for contempt proceedings against KP governor

PTI leader and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s former speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani filed the contempt petition

By Sohail Khan
March 21, 2023
KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali.— APP/File
KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali.— APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday filed a contempt petition against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali for violating the order of the Supreme Court by not announcing the date of elections in the province.

PTI leader and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s former speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani filed the contempt petition, praying for initiating contempt of court proceedings against Haji Ghulam Ali under Article 204 of the Constitution read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 and implementation of the judgments of the apex court on March 1, 2023.

He named Governor Haji Ghulam Ali and the Election Commission of Pakistan, through its Secretary, as respondents. Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani prayed to the apex court to initiate contempt proceedings against Haji Ghulam Ali, punishing him accordingly.

He further prayed to the apex court that it may get its judgment and order dated March 01, 2023, implemented without any further delay, and if the contemnor/Haji Ghulam Ali is not willing or ready to appoint such a date, this court may either direct the President or any other suitable functionary to appoint such a date for a poll or fix the date itself, as has been done in a previous election.

He claimed that on January 18, 2023, (as Governor KP), the Contemnor/Haji Ghulam Ali had acted on the advice of the then chief minister by Article 112(1) of the Constitution. “Upon dissolution of the assembly, the contemnor was immediately obligated, as the very first imperative under Article 105(3) ibid., to “appoint a date for the holding of a general election thereto, being a date not later than 90 days from the date of the dissolution,” Mushtaq Ghani submitted.

He submitted that it is a matter of record that soon after the dissolution of the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ECP had written repeatedly, urging and requesting the contemnor to discharge his constitutional obligation and appoint the date of the poll for the ensuing general election within the province.

“Although the Constitution does not leave any room for doubts or uncertainties and the role of the Contemnor/Respondent No. 1 is merely to appoint a date and nothing more, yet, the contemnor has been creating and propagating doubts, qualms, fears, and misgivings about the holding of general elections within the constitutionally guaranteed deadline of 90 days on one pretext or another,” the petitioner contended.

The petitioner submitted that the Contemnor/Ghulam Ali willfully chose to ignore the exalted status of his high constitutional office, and while willfully defying the mandate of Article 5 and exposing himself to the risk of proceedings under Article 6, he had been striving hard to find loopholes in the constitutional scheme to avert and indefinitely postpone the general elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mushtaq Ghani recalled that he and Muhammad Sibtain Khan (Speaker, Punjab Assembly) had collectively approached this Court through Constitutional Petition No. 2 of 2023, adding that as the constitutional timeframe to hold general elections within 90 days was expiring fast and things were not at all moving, the Chief Justice of Pakistan was pleased, in the meanwhile, to also take suo motu notice of the matter on February 22, 2023, and thus fixed the matter before a larger bench comprising nine (09) Judges of this Court on February 23, 2023, alongside Constitutional Petition No. 1 and 2 of 2023.

The court had finally decided on March 01, 2023, with a majority of 3:2 through a short order that required the Contemnor to appoint a date of general election forthwith, the petitioner submitted, adding that in situations where the assembly is dissolved by an order of the governor, the constitutional responsibility of appointing a date for the general election that must follow is to be discharged by the governor as provided in terms of Article 105(3)(a).

Mushtaq Ghani submitted that the pretext of caretakers that they are facing financial difficulties falls flat when such caretakers are planning to float subsidies amounting to over Rs 20 billion during Ramadan to gain political mileage and seek validation from the masses.

“Pretexts such as simultaneous elections in NA and PA and postponing elections for a nonexistent census are again based on misreading and non-reading of the Constitution and are nothing but clear proof that the Contemnor is bent upon flouting and overturning a clear-cut order of this Court,” he submitted.

He further submitted that the conduct of the election commission is also extremely discouraging, as it appears from their latest press release dated March 17, 2023, that even they are hand in glove with the Contemnor and the ECP also appears to careen towards postponing general elections both in KP and Punjab while aligning themselves with the defective line of reasoning orchestrated by the Contemnor/Ghulam Ali.

“By his brash and unabashed mannerism and public posturing, the Contemnor/Ghulam Ali has left no doubt that he is not at all interested in discharging his constitutional responsibilities and thus is fully geared up to defy, disregard, and disobey the orders of this Court and has thus conducted himself in a manner to have clearly and undoubtedly committed culpable contempt of court,” Ghani contended.

He submitted that the president has violated the Constitution. Not only has he been found by this court to have committed a breach of his constitutional responsibilities, but he has also been persisting in continuously disregarding and disobeying the clear directions of this court to fix a date forthwith.

The applicant also reserves his right to approach a competent forum to initiate proceedings against Ghulam Ali under Article 6 of the Constitution, besides seeking his immediate removal from an exalted constitutional office, the petitioner submitted.

He prayed to the court that the proceedings may very graciously be initiated against Haji Gulam Ali under Article 204 of the Constitution, Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, and Order XVII of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, and punish him accordingly.

Simultaneously, he submitted that this court may also get its judgment and order dated March 01, 2023, implemented without any further delay, and if the contestant is not willing or ready to appoint such a date, this court may either direct President or any other suitable functionary to appoint such a date for a poll or fix the date itself, as has been done in a previous election.