Imran Khan’s indictment in contempt case deferred by ECP until Aug 2 Toshakhana case. IHC Chief Justice greeted Imran’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad with “good to see you”.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s indictment in contempt case deferred by ECP until Aug 2

CJ IHC Aamer Farooq reserves verdict in Toshakhana, cipher case

ISLAMABAD ( Web News )

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday deferred the indictment of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan till August 2 in a case pertaining to contempt of the electoral body and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr. Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The ECP issued the directives as a four-member bench headed by Member ECP Sindh Nisar Ahmed Durrani heard the case. During Tuesday’s hearing, Imran Khan made his first appearance before the electoral watchdog since the case was taken up in October last year.

A day earlier, the ECP had ordered Islamabad police to arrest Imran Khan and pre­sent him before the elect­ion watchdog.

The ECP had initiated contempt proceedings against the PTI chief, party leader Asad Umar and former information minister Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry last year for allegedly using “intemperate” language against the chief election commissioner and the electoral watchdog.

However, instead of appearing before the ECP, the three had challenged the ECP notices and contempt proceedings in various high courts on the grounds that Section 10 of the Elections Act 2017, which is the statutory provision regarding the commission’s power to punish for contempt, was against the Constitution. The PTI leaders had also sought from the high courts a declaratory relief from the charges.

But in January, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had allowed the ECP to continue proceedings against Imran, Chaudhry and Umar, and on June 21, the ECP had decided to frame charges against the trio.

In the July 11 hearing, they did not appear before the commission despite being summoned, following which the ECP issued arrest warrants for Chaudhry and Imran. It had, however, accepted a plea by Umar’s lawyer to allow him an exemption from the hearing.

On Tuesday, Imran Khan appeared before the ECP bench alongside his counsel, Shoaib Shaheen. A member of the ECP bench stated that they had intended to indict the former prime minister in the case on Tuesday.

However, the PTI chief’s counsel requested the electoral watchdog to defer the hearing as he needed more time to gather the case record.

In response, the ECP asserted, “It is your responsibility to manage the file and case record.”

Subsequently, the watchdog accepted the counsel’s plea and postponed the indictment until August 2. It also directed him to ensure Imran Khan’s presence during the next hearing.

After the hearing, Imran Khan was asked by journalists if he would apologise to the commission. He responded by saying, “Do you think I should apologise? Why should I tender an apology when I did not make any mistake?”

When a journalist asked if he would “take more U-turns”, Imran said he would “keep taking U-turns”.

Another journalist commented that it seemed Imran had become a lawyer, to which the PTI chief said, “After so many cases, I have become a lawyer.”

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved its decision on the admissibility of the three pleas filed by the PTI chief in the Toshakhana case, challenging the maintainability of a criminal complaint against him for allegedly concealing details of Toshakana gifts.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq conducted the hearing. At the outset, the chief justice greeted Imran’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad with “good to see you”.

In his arguments, Khawaja Haris emphasised that the case against his client was driven by “malafide intent.” He asserted that the record being used by the prosecution against Imran should also be presented before the court. Khawaja Haris further highlighted that the ECP had acknowledged the disparity in signatures between a witness’s complaint and affidavit.

Upon hearing the arguments, the IHC reserved its verdict on the admissibility of Imran’s pleas.

Separately, the IHC also reserved its verdict on petitions challenging the notices, provision of details, and request to prevent the arrest of the PTI chairman in the cipher case.

The IHC chief justice presided over the hearing, and Imran’s counsel, Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, appeared before the court.

As the hearing commenced, Khosa expressed his disappointment, stating that even the prime minister’s house was not adequately protected. Khosa also raised concerns about the lack of clarity regarding why his client had been summoned by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). He urged the court to take action and bar authorities from arresting the former premier. The court reserved its decision after hearing arguments.