IHC suspends ECP’s order to change Islamabad’s election tribunal

Court issues contempt of court notice to PML-N MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan, hearing adjourned till July 9

News Desk June 24, 2024
Islamabad High Court (IHC). PHOTO: Express/File


The Islamabad High Court (IC) suspended on Monday the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order to change the Islamabad Election Tribunal and reinstated the tribunal comprising Justice Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri.

The court heard PTI’s petition against the ongoing proceedings related to the Election Amendment Ordinance and the change of tribunal in the ECP.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq presided over the case and issued a contempt of court notice to PML-N Member National Assembly (MNA) Anjum Aqeel Khan.

IHC CJ asked the Additional Attorney General (AAG) how he would defend this ordinance and also inquired about the urgency under which the ordinance was issued over night.

Justice Aamer remarked “Abolish the parliament and run the government through ordinances, you people have set up an ordinance factory, one is the Wah factory and the other is an ordinance factory, Wah factory makes weapons and you make ordinances. What was the bias against the judge that the election commission saw?”

The court further inquired whether Anjum Aqeelvhad requested the ECP to change the tribunal. CJ Farooq remarked, “Please explain to me what is written, what is the meaning of these words, what is prejudice?”

Anjum apologized to the judge stating “I admit that my English is weak, this is a legal language. I signed the judges are respectful to us, this is my mistake, I signed without reading these words. I made an application for transfer of the case.”

The judge remarked to Anjum “They were not accepting your recommendation, is that why you wanted to change them?”

“I did not recommend it,” replied Anjum.

CJ Aamer stated to Anjum that his petition was about the judge being biased. “You are a parliamentarian, you have to legislate, why did you accuse the judge?” Aamer Farooq added.

Anjum replied that there was a mistake in his choice of words and was not intentional.

Following these remarks, the IHC suspended the ECP’s order to change the Islamabad Election Tribunal and reinstated the tribunal comprising Justice Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri.

The court issued a contempt of court notice to Anjum Aqeel and adjourned the hearing till July 9.

In the last hearing also, CJ Farooq expressed his anger over the change of the Election Tribunal in Islamabad.

Justice Aamer inquired “Why the tribunal has been changed. The government explain to me that this amendment was abolished years ago, and now they have brought it through an ordinance. How can the acting president issue an ordinance? What was the emergency that the ordinance came overnight? Let the system remain a system.”

Shaheen stated that he would challenge the ECP’s decision and requested the court to restore the seats on the application pending before the court and to what has happened to date.

The CJ remarked “The tribunals were formed after consultation with me, I suggested the names and you gave the approval, then what was the need to change the judges of the tribunal? The request to change judge also comes to us, we do not ask for records, and you have to be accountable. We respected that ECP is a constitutional body, that is why we gave two days time.”

The ECP lawyer replied that the notice was sent on June 7 and that it was currently not in his possession.

IHC CJ questioned the ECP counsel on how the electronic media got to know about the formation of a new tribunal if a notification was not issued.

“You are doing wrong, don't do this, give a sensible answer. Think what you have to do, the transfer orders you have issued cannot be legally sustained,” he added.

The electoral watchdog approved earlier all three requests from PML-N MNA seeking a change of tribunal in Islamabad and has mandated the tribunal's transfer.

The ECP had also turned down PTI’s request to defer a hearing filed by the ruling party’s lawmakers against the election tribunal hearing complaints of alleged rigging in the February 8 polls.

The lawyer for the PML-N legislator reiterated that the election tribunal could not issue directives to the ECP.

He expressed concern that the tribunal was not granting them adequate time and that the matter was being rushed.

PTI’s Shoaib Shaheen told the bench that the party had challenged the ECP’s proceedings against the election tribunal in the IHC. "It is possible that we might get a stay order. Please grant us time until Monday," he requested.

Following the arguments from both PML-N and PTI-supported candidates for two days, the ECP had reserved its decision on Friday.

The PML-N MNAs, including Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, had expressed a lack of confidence in the election tribunal headed by Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri.

However, PTI lawyers Shoaib Shaheen, Aamir Mughal, and Ali Bukhari had requested the dismissal of the PML-N leaders' petitions.


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