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PHC hears PTI petition challenging verdict on intra-party polls, election symbol

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  • PTI says complainant who challenged elections is not member.
  • Party says they have hope for justice from Peshawar High Court.
  • ECP had declared PTI’s intra-party polls ‘unconstitutional’.

PESHAWAR: Justice Kamran Hayat Miankel of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) has started hearing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order declaring the intra-party polls illegal and revoking its electoral ‘bat’ symbol.

The party had filed the petition earlier today after a five-member ECP bench — headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja — declared PTI’s intra-party elections unlawful and stripped the party of its symbol. 

The party named the ECP and those who challenged the elections as respondents, requesting the court for an urgent hearing of the matter after which the court took up the plea today. 

The hearing

At the hearing’s outset, PTI lawyer Ali Zafar said the PTI was given 20 days for holding elections and it held internal party elections on December 3 in Peshawar. 

The ECP admitted the veracity of the intra-party elections and issued a certificate to the party, he said. 

The PTI counsel said then the ECP withdrew the electoral symbol saying the one who conducted the elections was not the right person. Hence, it invalidated the elections raising objection on the election commissioner, he added.

“The ECP’s order is illegal and unconstitutional,” he argued, adding that since their symbol was withdrawn they could not participate in the polls as a political party, hence they would also lose the reserved seats which were divided among political parties.

He said a ‘symbol case’ verdict of the Surpeme Court was present for reference. He said the Article 17 of the Constitution stated that everyone had the right to form association and union and the union and association had the right to elect their officials. The ECP questioned how the chief election commissioner was appointed by the general secretary, he said.

Barrister Zafar said as per the apex court the election symbol was a crucial part of Article 17. The ECP did not have the authority to question election of party officials, he said. Hence, the commission could not annul the party elections, he said adding that if the electoral authority was given this right then it would be violation of the Article 17.

Petition

The petition stated that the ECP did not have the authority to decide the procedure for intra-party elections. The complainant who challenged the intra-party polls was not a party member, it added.

“The ECP withdrew the electoral symbol ‘bat’,” it read asking the court to form a bench comprising senior judges and hear the plea on Tuesday (today).

The PTI prayed to the court to hold and declare that the impugned order is without jurisdiction, without lawful authority and illegal and as a consequence, thereof, set it aside forthwith.

The PTI also pleaded to hold and declare the proceedings by ECP to question the validity of the IPEs on the basis of any objections filed by any persons were coram non judice, illegal and without lawful authority.

“…find and declare that ‘election symbol’ has been illegal and unlawfully been withdrawn which is, inter alia, violation of fundamental rights of the petitioners including Article 17 and Article 25 of the constitution.”

The PTI asked the court to direct the ECP forthwith to “publish the certificates of PTI on its website of ECP as required by 209 (3)” in the interest of justice and to restore its election symbol.

In the wake of PTI’s intra-party elections, held on December 2, ex-PTI member Akbar S Babar had refused to accept the polls and moved the electoral authority against it.

Following the Election Commission’s verdict that the polls were not in line with the rules, the party not only had its symbol taken away, but it was also left without a chairman — as the polls declaring Barrister Gohar Khan as chairman were ruled illegal.

Talking about the decision last week, Gohar had lambasted the ECP for stripping the party of its bat symbol but hoped that the courts would back the PTI’s plea for its restoration.

“[PTI’s] electoral symbol will be restored,” hoped Gohar, who is also a lawyer by profession.

Political analyst Mazhar Abbas had told Geo.tv that the election commission has “never” declared any political party’s internal polls unlawful, noting that it seems like the PTI is “under attack”.

This is not the only pressing matter for the PTI. Its former chairman, Imran Khan, is behind bars and he is the main driving force behind the party’s votes.

Although he was granted bail in a cipher-related case last week by the Supreme Court, the PTI founder was arrested in two other cases before that and his release remains uncertain.

Moreover, since he was convicted in a corruption case, he has been barred from contesting elections for a period of five years. His sentence is suspended, but isn’t overturned so far.

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No “major breakthrough” in the opposition-led JUI-F and PTI meeting

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Maulana Fazalur Rehman stated that mending rifts in relationships and getting rid of resentment in an interview with the media in Islamabad with a team from the Tehreek-e-Tahafuz-e-Ayeen-e-Pakistan that paid him a visit.

While no significant progress was made at the meeting, all sides decided to keep in touch in order to plan for the future.

“A positive message,” according to the JUI-F chief, was received with open arms by the delegation. Taking a “united” stance on national issues was the primary goal of the meeting, he said.

Democracy is losing its appeal, and Pakistan’s parliament and constitution are losing their respect. In parliament, Maulana Fazalur Rehman continued, “we should have a single voice.”

Remarking on the event, National Assembly Opposition Leader Omar Ayub thanked the JUI-F leader for ‘warmly’ receiving the group.

We had a fruitful discussion in the meeting, he declared, urging the opposition parties to work with the PTI to “protect” the constitution.

Constitutional violations and a lack of a rule of law are the claims made by Omar Ayub. According to him, there was “no reason” why the police searched the PTI’s Islamabad central secretariat office.

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In the instance of illegal recruitment, Pervaiz Elahi is granted bail.

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The earlier-reserved court ruling was delivered by LHC Judge Sultan Tanveer Ahmad on Tuesday.

LHC had filed a post-arrest bail motion, according to the former chief minister.

On October 25, 2023, Pervaiz was taken into custody by the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE).

From June 1 to September 18, Elahi has been arrested in a number of crimes; the most recent one was reported by the Punjab ACE on September 18.

More: Pervaiz Elahi’s condition “deteriorated” in Adiala jail; he was hurried to PIMS.

In the Punjab Assembly, Elahi illegally hired 12 people for grade 17 positions, according to information provided by an ACE representative.

In the provincial assembly, the candidates were chosen through record-altering.

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The bail petition of Parvez Elahi in the Jinnah House attack case has been rejected by the ATC.

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A bail application filed by Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, a leader of the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) party, in the Jinnah House attack case has been rejected by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on the grounds of prematurity.

ATC Judge Arshad Javed announced the decision during today’s hearing.

The counsel representing Parvez Elahi contended that there was a significant likelihood of his client being arrested in relation to the Jinnah House attack case. It was stated that the ex-Chief Minister had previously been held in custody on judicial remand in other cases.

The petitioner requested the court to authorise the release of Parvez Elahi on bail in the Jinnah House attack case.

Nevertheless, the prosecution argued that the bail petition did not meet the necessary legal criteria, emphasising that Parvez Elahi had not been apprehended in connection with the case.

Considering these considerations, the court rejected Parvez Elahi’s request for release, stating that it was premature since he had not been arrested in the Jinnah House attack case.

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