The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday rejected a plea filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for an “instant” suspension of an Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruling disqualifying him from office for “corrupt practices.”
The ECP disqualified the ousted prime minister in the Toshakhana over his submission of an “incorrect” declaration, though the detailed verdict has yet to be issued. In the meanwhile, Khan approached the IHC for relief but faced objections by the registrar over its admissibility. Commencing hearings into the case, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked Khan’s lawyer, Ali Zafar, to summarize the objections to the petition before the case could be formally heard.
According to Zafar, one objection was related to Khan not providing biometric verification, while another one was linked to not attaching a certified copy of the ECP’s decision with the plea. He said that as the ECP had not yet issued the detailed verdict, it could not be attached with the plea.
“What is the rush in the case,” the CJ asked, with Khan’s lawyer claiming that his client had to contest a by-election at the end of the week and the ECP’s short order had ordered that he be prosecuted for corrupt practices. To this, the CJ noted the ECP had only directed that the complaint be sent for trial and prosecution could only occur once the case had been decided.
At this, Zafar argued that the disqualification was a “stigma” that could affect the results of the coming elections. “Disqualification will affect the people’s minds,” he said. “The short order is attached,” he added though admitted it was not a certified copy.
“When there is no judgment then which order should the court suspend?” asked the judge, directing Zafar to first address the objections raised by the registrar’s office before seeking further hearings. Noting the disqualification was only as a member of the National Assembly, the judge said it should not impact Khan’s ability to contest by-elections.
However, Zafar argued that the public was not aware of such technicalities. To this, Justice Minallah said it was not the court’s responsibility to apprise the public of such developments. “If you are not provided a certified copy within three days then we will hear the matter again,” he said, as he rejected Khan’s request for an “instant” suspension.