PTI chief submits reply to ECP in contempt case

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  • Top poll body likely to announce verdict on Sept 27
  • CEC-led five-member bench hearing contempt case

Imran Khan’s lawyer Babar Awan on Monday submitted the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman’s reply to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the contempt of court case.

A five-member ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Raza Khan, heard the contempt case against the PTI chairman. In its short order, the ECP announced that it would review the reply on September 27 and then give its verdict in the contempt case against Imran. The contempt of court petition against Imran Khan was filed by party dissident and one of PTI’s founding members, Akbar S Babar.

The petition had argued that the PTI chief, in a reply to the commission in another case regarding party funding, used derogatory language which was tantamount to the contempt of court. Subsequently, Imran’s lawyer Saqlain Haider had submitted an unconditional apology. However, the PTI chairman in a TV interview had reportedly said that his counsel tendered an apology in his personal capacity and that Imran himself had not apologised.

On the basis of the interview, the ECP was once again moved to proceed against Khan. Imran counsel pleaded the ECP to now dismiss contempt proceedings against his client. However, petitioner Akbar S Babar’s counsel objected, saying that Imran himself had not yet apologised to the court. The ECP said that it would announce its decision in the case after reviewing the PTI chairman’s reply.

In his written reply on Monday, Imran Khan said that his lawyer Saqlain Haider had submitted the apology on his behalf and that the PTI chief had not objected or opposed the apology. He argued that after the submission of the apology, the matter should have been settled. “My counsel appeared as pleader/advocate with full authority to act on my behalf to set at rest the liss/contempt proceeding,” reads Imran’s written reply.

Awan also submitted the order of Islamabad High Court (IHC), suspending the arrest warrants for Imran, issued by the ECP. He further argued that the IHC is going to hear a petition on the ECP’s powers in connection with contempt of court hearings. Earlier in the day, the petitioner filed another application against Imran, arguing that the PTI chief recently once again criticised the ECP so another contempt of court proceedings should be launched against him.

ECP directed Imran Khan to submit a reply to the application on September 27. The PTI chief recently asserted that he would not support the Election Bill 2017 or any such legislation even if he was disqualified under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution. The bill gives complete administrative and financial powers to ECP, increases the election expenses limits for both National Assembly and provincial assemblies’ seats by 150 per cent and makes it mandatory for registration of any political party to have at least 1,000 members.

During an interview with a private news channel on Saturday night, the PTI chief said that the bill was damaging morality and ethics in the country and legitimating thieves. He, however, made it clear that he had not committed any wrongdoing or financial crime. Elaborating his viewpoint, he said that he has been accused of bringing funds to Pakistan, not of being involved in money laundering or tax evasion.

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