The Lahore High Court on Thursday barred the Election Commission of Pakistan from removing Imran Khan as the chairman of the PTI in pursuance of the verdict issued in the Toshakhana case.
The court issued the directives as it accepted Imran’s petition against the ECP notice issued to debar him from heading the party. The LHC also issued notices to the attorney general of Pakistan and the ECP.
The ECP had on Dec 5, 2022 initiated the process to remove Imran Khan as the PTI chairman in the light of its verdict in the Toshakhana case. He was disqualified under Article 63(1p) of the Constitution for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.
It informed the Islamabad High Court on Dec 13, 2022 that it had initiated proceedings to remove Imran from the post of PTI chairman.
Consequently, Imran on Jan 4 approached the LHC against the ECP’s proceedings, pleading that the cognisance and exercise of jurisdiction by the ECP on the basis of alleged incorrect statement of assets and subsequent disqualification was unlawful and contrary to the Constitution.
Justice Jawad Hassan presided over the hearing where Imran’s lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar contended that the ECP did not have the authority to remove someone from the position of party chairman.
“If there is a matter of filing false statements, the election commission becomes a plaintiff. It does not give a verdict [as] it is not within its jurisdiction,” he said.
Justice Hassan asked Imran’s counsel whether the ECP verdict had been challenged in a court of law. Zafar responded by saying that the party had approached the Islamabad High Court but the case had not yet been decided.
Meanwhile, the ECP lawyer said that the electoral watchdog had issued the verdict in light of the reference forwarded by the National Assembly speaker.
“The law to disqualify any lawmaker is enshrined within the Constitution. In order to do this, the matter is forwarded to the commission,” he said.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned for Jan 11.