ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan over his ‘perpetual absence’during the contempt proceedings against him.
The five-member ECP, bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan, was hearing a petition filed by the PTI dissident – Akbar S. Babar – when it issued ‘non-bailable warrants’ for Khan.
The top electoral body ordered the police to arrest Imran and present him before the commission on October 26.
Sponsored action against PTI Chief: Babar Awan
Talking to media persons outside the ECP building, Khan’s counsel Babar Awan termed the arrest warrants for the party chief as ‘illegal’and ‘unconstitutional’.
“The commission has surprisingly issued a warrant in the same case where a previous one was suspended by a full-bench of Islamabad High Court [IHC],” he remarked.
The party would challenge the directives of the electoral regulatory body in the IHC, Awan added.
Calling the court proceedings against Imran as sponsored action, he said that some political quarters are engaged to distract democratic reforms’ process and such cases against his client were being filed under a malicious design.
ECP’s subject matter jurisdiction in contempt cases
Renewing his previous stance, Awan maintained that the regulatory body lacked subject matter jurisdiction to conduct contempt proceedings.
Party spokesperson Naeem ul Haque echoed similar sentiments and expressed resentment over the regulatory body’s orders.
Khan’s apology in last hearing
In the last hearing on Sept 25, Imran Khan through his counsel Babar Awan had submitted the reply before the five-member bench of the electoral regulatory body.
During the proceeding, Awan then said that his client had taken back the ‘scandalous remarks’ against the commission, hence the issue was resolved, adding that Khan had made an unconditional apology on the matter.
Hearing his arguments, the bench had reserved its verdict in the case.
“We were demanding the reply which you [Babar Awan] have submitted today,” the bench remarked.
Suspension of Imran Khan’s bailable arrest warrants
It is apropos to highlight here that the IHC had suspended the bailable arrest warrants for Khan issued by the ECP in the case on Sept 20.
IHC’s larger bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, suspended the top electoral body’s order while directing counsel for the PTI Babar Awan to submit a reply to the show-cause notice duly signed by Khan before the ECP by September 25.
The ECP had issued the contempt notice to Khan on January 24 over his “scandalous remarks” about the commission.