Foreign funding case: ECP reserves ruling on PTI complaints

Party wants scrutiny of its accounts in secret and not in presence: Akbar S Babar

Our Correspondent May 29, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The ECP reserved its judgment on Monday on two complaints filed by PTI for restraining the commission’s scrutiny committee from scrutinising its foreign funding.

The first complaint challenged the committee’s terms of reference (ToR) that allowed PTI’s accounts to be scrutinised in the presence of the petitioner and the party’s disgruntled leader, Akbar S Babar.

The second complaint accused the petitioner of leaking the scrutiny process to the media and called for keeping the entire process secret.

The committee, formed by the ECP through its March 12 orders, was tasked to commence the scrutiny of PTI’s foreign funding on April 3 this year. It was mandated to complete its work within a month.

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However, the committee, headed by the DG, law and two auditors from the defense establishment, could not make progress as PTI failed to submit requisitioned documents detailing its finances by raising objections to its terms of reference and demanding secrecy of the scrutiny process.

On Monday, PTI complaints were heard by ECP’s full bench, headed by Justice (retd) Sardar Mohammad Raza, the CEC and four other members of the election commission.

Babar Awan, who replaced former attorney-general Anwar Mansoor Khan as PTI’s legal counsel, presented arguments, justifying the petitioner’s alleged mala fide intent in filing the case.

Citing newspaper reports, he said that the petitioner had issued critical statements to the media in this regard.

News reports, he said, about the scrutiny process were an attempt to malign the party and its chairperson, Imran Khan.

The CEC, however, remarked that it was a common practice to report details of cases to the media even though the matter may be sub-judice.

The petitioner’s counsel, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, rebutted Babar Awan’s arguments, citing the constitutional right of any member of any party to seek details about its financial matters.

PTI, he said, had failed to provide any evidence supporting its assertion about expelling the petitioner from PTI.

He also cited a letter sent on September 11, 2011 by the petitioner to Imran Khan in which he demanded action on the same allegations that subsequently formed the basis of the case. He said that both of PTI’s applications were only meant to delay the scrutiny of its accounts and evade the liability for receiving massive funds from prohibited sources.

The petitioner, PTI’s former vice-president, Akbar S Babar was also allowed to address the bench.

He said that patriotism had precedence over loyalty to any party or its leader.

Citing several contemporary references from the UK’s political history, Babar asserted that since his leader had chosen an illegal course, he had no other option but to challenge him politically and legally.

After hearing arguments, the ECP reserved its judgment on PTI complaints, which would be announced on Wednesday May 30.

ECP officials said that the scrutiny committee held a meeting on Monday afternoon and PTI again failed to submit any document detailing its finances.

The PTI’s legal counsel requested ECP to restrain the committee until the commission announces its judgment on the complaints.

The petitioner’s counsel requested the Committee to proceed and finalize its findings based on the evidence before it even if PTI refuses to share its accounts.

The meeting of the scrutiny committee was adjourned until May 30.


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