The Supreme Court on Thursday raised questions on the maintainability of a petition against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, including Imran Khan, for “inciting the people against state institutions”.
A division bench of the SC led by Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan heard the petition filed by lawyer namely Qosain Faisal who had sought the apex court’s directions to the party's leaders, including Imran Khan, to stop giving statements against the institutions and establish a commission to take further action against the party leaders.
During the proceeding this morning, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan asked the petitioner counsel Hassan Raza Pasha which of the fundamental rights are violated. “Which law is violated by respondents,” the court asked while also questioning why the petitioner did not approach relevant forum to redress his grievances.
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The SC judge also asked how the case is a matter of public importance. “Could the court intervene in a matter under Article 184/3 out of public interest against private persons?” questioned the judge.
"Why should the court hear this case?"Justice Ijazul Ahsan questioned, to which advocate Faisal responded by saying that " Imran Khan and other leaders made derogatory statements against the supreme judiciary, the Election Commission, and the armed forces".
However, Justice Yahya Afridi maintained that the lawyers' argument remained unclear. "Have the courts been rendered weak following someone's comments?" he retorted.
"The SC has the authority to evoke Article 204 in contempt of court. Whenever the court deems it appropriate, it will take notice itself and take action," said Justice Afridi.
"Your job was to inform the court, you have done so, that is it," he continued.
"It would have been appropriate for you to have gone to another forum for proceedings," the judge remarked.
"The petitioner is a Pakistani citizen and his sentiments were hurt by the statements made against the institutions," responded the lawyer.
"Will the court now take action if someone's feelings are hurt?" retorted Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
The bench also asked the petitioner to submit transcripts and relevant material to establish that respondents gave statements against state institutions.
Commenting on the matter, Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that "the statements may have been reported on the media", he remarked "only a handful are reporting correctly these days".
"The court must be made aware of why it should intervene in such cases," said Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
Subsequently, the counsel sought time. At his request, the matter is adjourned until the first week of September.
'Attack' on ECP
Earlier in July, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had taken notice of the recent allegations hurled against it by PTI chairman and deposed premier Imran Khan and sought footage of his recent speeches from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman.
The rift between the election commission and PTI has been ongoing for several months. While the ECP maintains it is unbiased, Imran Khan and other party leaders have repeatedly alleged foul play. Matters came to heads during the Punjab by-polls that ultimately brought the party back into power in Punjab.
The ECP had rejected former prime minister Imran Khan’s allegations that the electoral watchdog chief Sikandar Sultan Raja “tried to rig” Punjab by-polls to favour the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
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Meanwhile, the ruling coalition leaders have alleged that Imran Khan's "attack" on the ECP was not because of any rigging as it did not happen but over fears of the adverse verdict in a foreign funding case.
Two days after the ECP issued show-cause notices to the PTI in the prohibited funding case, PTI chairman Imran Khan said the “neutrals” – apparently a reference to the security establishment – had guaranteed that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja was the right man for the job.
In an interview with BBC Urdu published on Wednesday, the ex-premier regretted having made this decision, adding that the PTI would approach the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against the decision of the ECP and CEC.
He maintained that Raja’s name came up during the deadlock for the post of the CEC during his tenure.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan had called for a ‘peaceful protest’ outside the ECP on August 4 – a move Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday had warned the PTI against.
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