The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday rejected the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) request seeking directions to bar the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from taking action against its members on the basis of the ECP verdict in the foreign funding case.
A larger bench headed by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Baber Sattar heard the case filed by the PTI challenging the ECP's decision.
During the hearing, PTI lawyer Anwar Mansoor submitted written arguments before the court, contending that the ECP had no authority to send the matter to the federal government.
He said that the ECP had sent the matter to the federal government regarding dissolving the party. He added that opening cases on the basis of the ECP decision was also an illegal act.
The lawyer further pointed out that there was a difference between prohibited funding and “foreign aid”. “Over 185 cases have been opened against the party since the ECP’s ruling in addition to FIA’s dozens of FIRs,” he said.
He said sending the reference to the Supreme Court warranted solid evidence to prove that the foreign funds were against the integrity of the country.
He prayed the court to conduct hearing of the case on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the IHC CJ remarked that the ECP had ascertained that foreign funds had been received by the party as ascertained, adding that the electoral watchdog could confiscate the funds.
He also said any such money could also be deposited in the national exchequer.
However, Justice Aurangzeb observed that it was nowhere written in the ECP’s verdict that the PTI’s act of taking foreign funds was against the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan.
As for the PTI's concerns about a reference being sent to the apex court, the court said that no such action against the party had been taken. "So far, the federal government has not sent any reference against it."
It added that if the government wanted to proceed with it, there was a separate mechanism for that. “For now, you have only been issued a show-cause notice in response to which you present your defence.”
Subsequently, the bench rejected the PTI's request to stop FIA's action into the matter, remarking that it was a separate issue.
The case was then adjourned till January 10.
It may be mentioned here that the ECP had served a show-cause notice to the PTI after prohibited funding was proved against it. The PTI had challenged the decision before the IHC.
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