ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for failing to show up for the contempt of court proceeding against him.
The ECP has directed the authorities concerned to arrest Imran Khan and present him before the ECP on October 26.
The ECP was hearing the contempt of court case against Imran Khan filed by PTI dissident and one of the founding members, Akbar S. Babar.
The ECP suspended proceedings as soon as they began and the members reconvened in the chambers, following which the arrest warrants were issued.
On Thursday, Advocate Shahid Gondil told the court that the case, pertaining to the ECP’s jurisdiction to hear the plea, was pending in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). According to PTI spokesperson Naeemul Haq, the party is also set to challenge the warrants in the IHC.
“A new warrant is issued in the same case where a [bailable] warrant was already suspended. We will also look into whether this is contempt of the IHC’s full bench or not and then [the party] we will challenge it,” said PTI member and lawyer Babar Awan.
Last month, the ECP had issued bailable arrest warrants against him for the same reason and had ordered the PTI chief to submit surety bonds worth Rs0.1 million, and to ensure his presence in court on Sept 25.
In August, the election commission had issued a second show-cause notice to Imran Khan after he failed to reply to an earlier notice regarding the contempt of court proceedings against him.
Imran Khan had initially challenged the maintainability of the contempt petition and raised objections over ECP’s jurisdiction to initiate contempt proceedings against him. However, the ECP declared on August 10 that it had the legal right to hear the contempt case. It then issued a formal show-cause notice to the PTI chairman, asking him to submit a reply by Aug 23.
Khan’s lawyer Babar Awan had then pleaded before the five-member ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Muhammad Raza, that they wanted to challenge the ECP’s judgement regarding the maintainability of the contempt petition and hence, should be granted some time to do so.
Imran Khan had accused the ECP of being biased in the foreign funding case following which his lawyer had tendered an apology with the commission. However, the PTI chairman in a TV interview later said that his counsel had tendered an apology in his personal capacity and that he had not apologised.