Election Commission warns Imran Khan, Asad Umar & Fawad Chaudhry of ex parte action if they skip next hearing
ISLAMABAD ( Web News )
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday strictly warned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, PTI Secretary General Asad Umar and PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry of ex parte proceedings if they failed to appear in another hearing of the contempt case.
Four-member bench of the ECP headed by Member ECP Sindh Nisar Ahmed Durrani and comprising Member ECP Balochistan Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Member ECP Punjab Babar Hassan Bharwana and Member ECP Khyber Pakhtunkwa Justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan heard the case against Imran Khan, Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry.
The bench heard case pertaining to the contempt of court notice taken on use of intemperate, un-parliamentary language and contemptuous remarks against the Election Commission of Pakistan by Imran Khan Niazi, Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry. Meanwhile the bench heard the case pertaining to the contempt of court notice taken by ECP on the use of intemperate, un-parliamentary language and contemptuous remarks against Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Sikandar Sultan Raja by Imran Khan Niazi and Fawad Chaudhry.
The electoral body had also issued bailable arrest warrants —for the three leaders— which were suspended by the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan on Monday.
At the outset of Tuesday’s hearing, ECP’s Balochistan Member Shah Muhammad Jatoi questioned, “Where are Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Fawad Chaudhary?”
At this, Advocate Faisal Chaudhry’s assistant told the ECP panel that the PTI leaders and their counsel could not make it to the hearing because they had to attend former president Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Lala Abdul Latif Afridi’s funeral in Peshawar.
Member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan said the high court had suspended their arrest warrants but did not exempt them from attending the proceedings, adding that they did not file an exemption request either.
Member Sindh Nisar Ahmed Durrani said that the ECP will hold ex parte proceedings and announce the verdict if the PTI leaders skip the next hearing. The commission reserved judgment on the matter of skipping the hearing by the accused and adjourned the hearing until January 24. It is expected the commission will announce its order regarding the non-appearance of the accused before the bench in next few days.
In August last year, the ECP issued a contempt notice to the PTI leaders for insulting the commission and its chief during public meetings, press conferences, and interviews.
On Monday, the LHC Rawalpindi Bench suspended the PTI leaders’ bailable arrest warrants issued by the ECP.
Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan of the LHC suspended the warrants issued by ECP’s four-member bench last week.
Even though the court suspended the warrants, it directed the ECP to carry on with its contempt proceedings against the PTI leaders.
Last week, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, immediately after the ECP’s decision, announced he would challenge the warrants in the high court and file a contempt plea against ECP.
During the hearing, the court remarked “PTI seeks relief from the judiciary but targets them in the media”.
“Targeting the judiciary in the media is contempt of court. If Fawad Chaudhry targets the courts in the media again, contempt of court proceedings will be launched,” warned the court.
Justice Khan remarked that Fawad during an interview with an international channel laid the blame for corruption on the judiciary. He also told the PTI leader’s lawyer that the court was granting him relief right now but he should tell his client to refrain from making contemptuous remarks against the courts. “Enough is enough, the court will no longer show restraint,” remarked Justice Khan.