PTI takes back its reference against CEC for vetting

Lists a number of allegations against Sikandar Sultan Raja from meeting PDM leaders to discrimination in hearing cases

By: News Desk
Published: 02:35 PM, 4 Aug, 2022
PTI takes back its reference against CEC for vetting
Caption: CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja
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Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday withdrew its reference against the chief election commissioner (CEC) shortly after reaching the office of the registrar Supreme Court (SC), reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The PTI leaders had to change their minds when they thought it would be better if they also included in the reference the changes allegedly introduced in the prohibited funding case verdict by the CEC and to highlight more legal aspects.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of former prime minister Imran Khan has moved a reference to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The former ruling party sought removal of the CEC on charges of deliberate mismanagement. The reference pleads that the CEC was unable to deliver his constitutional duties in an appropriate manner.

The PTI further pleaded with the SJC to order removal of the CEC on account of the “commission of continuous and deliberate misconduct”.

The reference alleged that a delegation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) met the CEC and four other members of the ECP in his office on July 29 to “pressure” him into announcing the verdict in the prohibited funding case. It was a consequence of that meeting that the Election Commission decided to deliver the verdict on August 2.

Thus, the CEC allegedly violated his oath, the reference argued, contending that the ECP’s decision was illegal, unlawful and coram non judice. The PTI will challenge the order in court, the reference added.

The reference further argued the CEC had violated the ECP’s code of conduct and failed to fulfil his constitutional obligations. The code of conduct for judges of the superior judiciary applies to the chief election commissioner as well, the PTI said, adding a high court judge never discusses pending cases with any person or institution.

“The CEC must be removed from one of the most respectable and sacred constitutional posts,” the reference said.

The reference said the CEC had dismissed many PTI applications in the prohibited funding case, including a request to conduct a joint hearing in funding cases of PTI and other parties, the reference said.

The Islamabad High Court provided relief to PTI, asking the ECP to extend an equal treatment to all political parties and to hear their cases with due diligence and to concluded these within a reasonable time, the reference added.

Instead, the reference complained, the ECP announced a verdict in the PTI case only and kept the cases of other parties in abeyance. “This is absolute discrimination.”

It is a routine matter that judges of the Supreme Court meet members of the Pakistan Bar Council, the Supreme Court Bar Association and other lawyer forums, but it has been observed recently that the apex court refused to meet a delegation of the Supreme Court Bar Association during hearing of the suo motu petition under article 184(3) of the Constitution in the “Parvez Elahi versus Deputy Speaker, Punjab Assembly” case since it was one of the parties in the proceedings.

The same rule applied to the CEC, the reference said, but he not only met the PDM delegation but also admitted that a discussion did take place on the timing of the judgement in PTI prohibited funding case.

The reference recalled that the Lahore High Court had asked the Election Commission in 2018 to dispose of a funding case related to the Peoples Party within one month. But the ECP did not comply with the directive “only to benefit (PPP chief) Bilawal Bhutto in the run-up to the general election”, the PTI alleged.

“The discriminatory attitude of the respondent has been noticeable time and again since 125 members of the National Assembly resigned their seats on April 9, which was accepted by former deputy speaker (acting as Speaker) Qasim Suri.

“Their resignations were published in the gazette on April 13 and sent to the ECP, but they were not denotified, whereas the current National Assembly Speaker, by doing an illegal and unconstitutional act, accepted the resignation of 11 members out of 125 and sent the reference to the CEC. He took no time to denotify them,” the PTI said.

In the disqualification case of Mohammad Kashif Chaudhry, a PML-N member of the Punjab Assembly, the CEC delayed the process of his denotification, the PTI said. But when Faisal Niazi, a former member of the Punjab Assembly belonging to PML-N, resigned his seat to dissociate himself from his party, the CEC delayed the denotification process, the reference alleged.

The reference further alleged that the CEC has been opposing the introduction of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) so that the PTI’s opponents “are able to use unfair means during elections”.

The PTI-led government in the Centre was toppled through a “conspiracy initiated upon the cypher issued by Donald Lu, a US Deputy Undersecretary of State”, on March 8, the reference alleged.

Reporter: Amanat Gishkori