ISLAMABAD: Former chief justice Chaudhry Iftikhar, Justice (retd) Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Najam Sethi and Justice (retd) Riaz Kayani vehemently contested Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s rigging allegation.
Earlier, Imran had revealed the names of the key players who allegedly orchestrated a plan to rig the May 2013 elections.
Najam Sethi refuted the PTI chief’s claims by saying that becoming the head of the cricket board was a “punishment” rather than a reward for him.
“Imran has implied several times that as CM Punjab I helped rig 35 seats. Yet he has never given any proof of this,” he said.
Sethi said that Imran’s allegation that sweeping changes were made in the Punjab administration when he was the caretaker chief minister is baseless. He claims that 28 out of the 30 secretaries were altered.
The former PCB chairman said Imran should admit that at every stage of the caretaker administration he responded to the PTI’s complaints with neutrality.
“Imran would rather have others believe that the elections were stolen from him rather than admitting defeat,” he said.
Sethi has also filed a defamation suit against PTI chief Imran Khan seeking damages of Rs100 crore. An additional district and sessions judge will hear preliminary arguments in the proceedings today (Wednesday).
The former PCB chairman dismissed the charge, saying PTI could not substantiate the same. “These are baseless accusations that purposely distort facts in an effort to defame me,” he said.
No proof of the allegations has been provided. Sethi served a legal notice on February 17 to the PTI chief asking him to present cogent, relevant and admissible evidence of the alleged conversation between the plaintiff and the PML-N leadership to establish the veracity of the allegation of 35 “punctures” – an allusion to poll cheating. Imran was also given the option of issuing an apology for his “malicious and scandalous remarks”. The PTI chief neither provided any proof nor responded to the notice.
The former PCB chief asked the court to permanently restrain Imran from defaming him and tender an apology. Furthermore, he wants the PTI chief to pay Rs300,000 as general damages and another Rs100 crore as special damages.
Flurry of reactions
Chaudhry Iftikhar rejected the PTI chief’s allegations. He said that Imran has levelled such allegations in frustration. The former CJP intends to take the matter to court.
Justice Ramday condemned the allegations as being “laughable” and wholly unsubstantiated.
“Such statements don’t suit a person like Imran Khan,” he said. “The Supreme Court does not have any link with the provincial courts and it is the high courts that have the authority to supervise lower courts.”
He added that he had retired in 2011 and was not involved in the matter. Justice Ramday also denied the charge that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took orders from him or ever sought his advice.
Justice (retd) Riaz Kayani – who has served as member of the Election Commission of Pakistan – said Imran’s allegations against him depict ‘white lies’.
“I can only sympathise with the electorate who voted him into the National Assembly. Imran may have stood tall in the game of cricket, but he has reduced himself to a midget in politics by levelling such allegations against me,” he said.
Justice Kayani said he had neither been a legal adviser to the Sharif brothers nor represented them in court.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th,2014.