Wednesday, February 1
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ECP gets go-ahead to continue contempt proceedings against Imran Khan, other PTI leaders

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to continue its proceedings against former Prime Minister Imran Khan and other Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders- Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry, in the cases related to the contempt of the ECP.

Disposing of the ECP’s petition, a three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Ayesha A Malik, held that the proceedings initiated by the ECP under Section 10 of the Election Act, 2017, against the respondents “have been allowed to continue”.

“But ECP has been hereby restrained from passing final orders under the said section,” a seven-page court order stated. The order stated that the high courts had not stopped the ECP from proceeding in the matter initiated by it and the respondents had raised objections about the “alleged incompetence” of the officer who had issued the show cause notices.

“As these objections have been raised in the pending proceedings under section 10 before the ECP, the same are required to be considered and decided by it before passing any final order”, the order stated. “We hold that the petitioner [ECP] may continue its proceedings in accordance with law including, by decisions on the objections raised on behalf of the respondents,” the court’s order further stated.

“The operation of a statutory provision must not be interrupted by a court of law. “[…] Unless a statute or statutory provision is finally declared to be ultra vires the Constitution, its normal operations can be curtailed by an interim order,” the court order maintained.

During August and September 2022, the ECP had issued contempt notices, in exercise of its powers of contempt, against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other party leaders Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Mian Shabbir Ismail and Danial Khalid Khokhar for allegedly using “intemperate” language against the Chief Election Commissioner and ECP.

These leaders were asked to appear in person or through their counsels before the ECP to explain their position. However, instead of appearing before the ECP, the PTI leaders had challenged the ECP notices and contempt proceedings in various high courts. They had contended 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.