Tuesday September 27, 2022

PTI files another plea in ECP to delay funding case verdict

June 15, 2022
Photo: The News/File
Photo: The News/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday filed yet another application in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to restrain it from announcing the judgment in the foreign funding case.

Lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan, on behalf of the PTI, filed the application, praying not to announce the verdict until other cases are also decided. On Tuesday, the ECP reserved its judgment on the most recent PTI application in a series of applications and writ petitions to delay the verdict in almost eight-year-old foreign funding case.

The PTI lawyer repeated the legal provisions of political funding, as the hearing resumed after a break. He said the PTI would conclude its arguments on Wednesday. Afterwards, the ECP is likely to allow the petitioner’s lawyer, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, to respond to the conclusive arguments of PTI.

Talking to media outside the ECP office, the petitioner and PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar said after almost eight years of struggle the case might have come to its conclusive stage. He said the purpose of the case was to institutionalise political parties so that they could act as nurseries of credible and competent leadership.

Babar said it is time for Imran Khan to take major decisions as he is at crossroads. He asked the PTI chairman to hand over the party to those who remained committed to the founding principles. He said it was ridiculous on the part of the PTI to demand judgment in all the three parties’ foreign funding cases as the one related to PTI was almost eight years old.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved its judgment on PTI's appeal against the orders to the ECP for deciding the foreign funding case within one month. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Baber Sattar heard the case filed by PTI challenging the verdict of single member bench.

At the outset of hearing, PTI's lawyer Anwar Mansoor argued that his client party was being targeted despite there was clear instructions of the Supreme Court to the ECP for scrutiny of all political parties without discrimination. The ECP was not a court of law instead it was an administrative body, he said, adding that all political parties should be on same page.

The chief justice remarked it would be good if all political parties come on same page. The court observed that the ECP had told it that the case would be heard in a time frame. The lawyer said the ECP had started scrutiny of PTI in March while scrutiny of PPP and PML-N was started in April.

The court said the maximum punishment could be just confiscation of funds collected from prohibited sources if it the case proved. The scrutiny committee had submitted its report and it had to be viewed whether the ECP would issue any show-cause notice to PTI on the basis of report or not.

The chief justice remarked that how it could give directions to ECP as it was a constitutional institution. Kamran Mutaza Advocate said that the scrutiny procedure for PTI funding was started before the other parties. Head of Scrutiny Committee Muhammad Arshad said they were also conducting the scrutiny of other three political parties.

The court said when the documents of PTI were clean then what to worry about. The chief justice asked that at this stage how could the court assume that the ECP's proceeding was not transparent. The ECP's lawyer said that the PTI had submitted complaints against 100 political parties.

However, the ECP had served notices to 17 parties after the scrutiny. He said the petitioner had objection over one month time which had already been passed. Jamat-e-Islami's lawyer Qaiser Imam adopted the stance that the ECP had served no any notice to his party during 2014 to 2018. The party had no objection if the ECP wanted to conduct its scrutiny but it shouldn't be clubbed with the PTI's foreign funding case. The court observed that JI used to hold political gatherings in a simple way but the petitioner’s party had to spent more expenditure on its processions. The court said currently there was no decision of ECP before it. The bench reserved its judgment on the case.