ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court observed on Wednesday that it would decide a petition filed by PTI Chief Imran Khan, challenging the power of the top poll body to prosecute a contempt case, once the ECP decides on the former cricketer’s reply to a show-cause notice.
A larger bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb observed on Wednesday that the court would hear the case only after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) gives its decision.
The apex poll body is expected to announce an order in the case on October 12 (today).
Subsequently, the bench adjourned the case till October 24.
On a previous hearing, the larger bench had suspended ECP’s bailable warrants of arrest against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief in a contempt case, while his counsel, Babar Awan, was directed to submit a reply to the ECP’s show-cause notice which was duly signed by Imran by September 25.
The directions were issued after the bench noted that Imran had yet to reply to the show-cause notice and that a previous reply the PTI leader had submitted before the ECP was not duly signed.
Imran, through his counsel, had initially approached the IHC stating that the ECP did not have the power to process a contempt case against him. But when the ECP issued arrest warrants for Imran, Awan raised the matter before the court. The latter then suspended the ECP’s order.
Awan has been arguing that the Contempt of Court Act 1976, had been repealed by the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 and that contempt proceedings are conducted under the 2003 ordinance in entire Pakistan.
He contended that the ECP had been provided with the power to prosecute contempt through Section 103-A of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976, and it was not amended to the extent of the Ordinance of 2003.
“Therefore Election Commission of Pakistan has no power to proceed for contempt,” he argued, least the provision is amended by an act of parliament.
Awan urged the court to set aside the ECP’s order of August 10 and declare all other consequential contempt related proceedings void, unlawful and without lawful authority.
On August 24, the polls supervisory body had issued a second show-cause notice to the cricketer-turned-politician after he failed to respond to an earlier notice regarding the contempt of court proceedings against him.
The commission was hearing the contempt of court case against the PTI chief filed by a dissident party leader, Akbar Babar. Imran and Babar have been embroiled in a legal battle before the ECP and IHC for the last three years.
Imran had initially challenged the maintainability of the contempt petition and raised objections over the ECP’s jurisdiction to initiate contempt proceedings against him.
The commission, however, declared on August 10 that it had the legal right to hear the contempt case and then issued a formal show-cause notice to him asking for submission of a reply by Aug 23. Later, when Khan did not submit any reply, the ECP issued a second show-cause notice to him on August 24.
Imran has requested IHC to set aside ECP’s order of August 10 and declare all other consequential contempt related proceedings void, unlawful and without lawful authority.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2017.