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Monday December 06, 2021

ECP will react to ministers’ tirade against it on Monday

September 12, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Those federal ministers who accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of corruption, said it should be burned down and used foul language against the constitutional body and its head could soon face contempt proceedings.

Sources said that the ECP on Monday will meet to deliberate the alarming development and could possibly take stern action against some federal ministers besides formally approaching the president and the prime minister to convey its displeasure.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, Azam Swati and Babar Awan mounted blistering attacks on the Election Commission in a hurriedly called news conference on Friday after the Commission showed its reluctance to hold the next election under the electronic voting system.

Swati had accused the ECP of taking money and Fawad had accused the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja of acting as a mouthpiece for the opposition parties. “This is a clear case of serious contempt against the Election Commission of Pakistan,” an official source associated with the Commission said, adding that the ECP will discuss the option of initiating contempt proceedings against the ministers.

Fawad had said if the chief election commissioner wanted to take part in politics, that is a right the law gives him, and he should leave the Election Commission and become a candidate himself, come to Parliament and play his role.

The minister said the CEC might have personal sympathies for the PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif due to his close connections with the latter, saying the government had no problems with that.

Earlier, before staging a walk-out during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, which rejected key government amendments to the Elections Act 2017 including the use of EVMs and I-voting, Federal Minister Azam Swati had lashed out at the Election Commission and accused it of always rigging polls. He suggested that such institutions should be set on fire — an inflammatory remark never heard of previously with regard to the constitutional body.

Before the committee voted on the proposed amendments, Swati came down hard on the ECP and alleged that the commission took bribes to rig polls.

Like the high courts, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is armed with the discretionary power to punish any person for contempt of court but it has never exercised such powers despite the harsh criticism of its decisions by politicians.

Section 10 of the Elections Act, 2017 says the ECP may exercise the same power as the high court to penalise any person for contempt of court. In this connection, the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, or any other law pertaining to contempt of court, will have an effect as if the reference to a court or to a judge were a reference to the ECP, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) or an ECP member.