IHC refuses to nullify Imran’s disqualification

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Stops ECP from holding by-polls in NA-95

Zubair Qureshi
Islamabad

The Islamabad High Court has stopped the Election Commission of Pakistan from announcing schedule of by-election in former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s National Assembly constituency NA-95 (Mianwali) which had fallen vacant after his disqualification in the Toshakhana reference.

The court’s direction came on Monday during the hearing of Imran Khan’s plea against the ECP’s decision of disqualifying him. The ECP had on Oct 21 announced its decision disqualifying Imran Khan as Member of National Assembly.

Following its order the electoral watchdog on Oct 24 (last Monday) also de-notified him from NA-95 with “immediate effect”.

While challenging the ECP order, Imran Khan had filed a plea with the IHC last week and sought the court’s order to set it aside. The counsel for the petitioner urged the court to declare the ECP’s order “misconceived” and deviation from set principles of justice.

On Monday, as Justice Aamer Farooq of IHC took up the case for hearing, Imran’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar pointed out that his client had been “illegally” de-notified by the ECP from NA-95 (Mianwali).

The electoral watchdog maintained that Imran Khan failed to properly account for monetary proceeds from the sale of Toshakhana gifts while he was the prime minister which in fact is not correct, he said.

The verdict he said was legally and constitutionally “incorrect” and the ECP could only make a decision after a trial but not without it.

The court questioned whether the National Assembly speaker could disqualify a lawmaker after he is “sentenced”.

The judge also inquired if the NA speaker had drafted the reference himself or someone had submitted a request. According to the NA Speaker’s reference Imran was no more “Sadiq” and “Amin” (True and Righteous) the judge said.

The PTI counsel replied that every lawmaker had to submit his/her asset statements. However, he argued that there was no need to include those assets which had been sold.

“An assembly membership gets suspended if he does not submit the statements,” Barrister Zafar told the court.

After hearing the arguments, the court stopped ECP from holding by-election in NA-95 and issued notices to the respondents and adjourned the hearing till Nov 10.

Later, while talking to media after the hearing, Barrister Zafar said the ECP’s decision had been suspended in a way as it could not be implemented.

Tosha¬khana is the government repository under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.

According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

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