Tue. Mar 5th, 2024
PTI dealt blow as Supreme Court restores ECP orderPTI dealt blow as Supreme Court restores ECP order

Islamabad: In a significant turn of events, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) witnessed a setback as the Supreme Court overturned the Peshawar High Court’s decision that reinstated the party’s election symbol, the “cricket bat.”

The three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and including Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarat Hilali, announced the verdict late on Saturday after a marathon 12-hour session. The bench supported the Election Commission of Pakistan’s findings, citing numerous irregularities in PTI’s intra-party elections.

During the proceedings, PTI’s legal representatives, including Barrister Ali Zafar and Hamid Khan, argued extensively, while the Election Commission’s lawyer, Makhdoom Ali Khan, made a detailed submission. Interestingly, Chairman PTI Barrister Ali Gohar, present in the courtroom, reported an incident where unidentified individuals entered his house in Islamabad, harassed his son and nephew, and ransacked the property.

Reacting to this, Chief Justice Isa directed Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman to liaise with the Ministry of Interior and Inspector General of Police, Islamabad. The Inspector General later explained that the police, mistaken about the ownership, left after realizing it was Barrister Gohar’s residence.

Addressing the irregularities in PTI’s intra-party elections, the bench criticized the Peshawar High Court’s judgment as self-contradictory. Justice Mazhar highlighted the inconsistency of not striking down Section 215 of the Election Act, 2017, yet asserting that the ECP lacked the authority to scrutinize intra-party elections without the party’s certification.

The Chief Justice questioned the ECP’s counsel about allegations of biased treatment, asserting that the Commission seemed to target only the PTI. Makhdoom defended the ECP’s actions, stating that they had been urging PTI to hold intra-party elections since 2021 and had initiated action based on PTI members’ complaints.

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The bench also probed the seemingly disparate treatment of political parties, citing the case of Awami National Party, which was fined but given time until May 2024 to conduct party elections.

PTI members, including Akbar S Babar, Mehmood Khan, Noreen Farooq, Bilal Azhar Rana, Muhammad Muzamil Sindhu, Ahmed Hassan, Muhammad Yousaf, and Asadullah Khan, affirmed their ongoing membership and reported being denied nomination papers for intra-party elections.

Advocate Hassan Cheema, representing Babar, accused PTI of making false statements before the PHC, claiming that they were not PTI members. Supreme Court The Chief Justice repeatedly asked PTI lawyers to prove Babar’s non-membership but received no conclusive evidence.

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Hamid Khan, representing PTI, argued that the intra-party polls faced challenges in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to security issues, alleging harassment and detainment of PTI leaders and workers. He criticized the Commission for what he perceived as unequal treatment of political parties.

Barrister Ali Zafar defended the PHC’s decision, emphasizing that minor irregularities should not warrant depriving PTI of its “bat” symbol, which could disenfranchise a significant number of voters.

The Chief Justice reminded that if the court deemed PTI’s intra-party elections valid, the “bat” symbol would be restored. Despite the defense’s arguments, the Chief Justice Supreme Court underscored the Election Commission’s constitutional significance, emphasizing its irreplaceable role in the democratic process.

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By zarish

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