Prime Minister Imran Khan and Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar have challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) notice served to them for partaking in the March 11 Lower Dir rally.
The petition has been accepted, with IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah set to hear it shortly despite objections from the court’s registrar office.
On the same day of the jalsa, the ECP had issued a notice to the prime minister and others, including KP Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, and federal ministers Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Parvez Khattak, Murad Saeed, Asad Umar, provincial cabinet members Shafiullah, Anwar Zeb and Liaqat Ali.
“You are required to appear in person or through counsel in this office along with a written statement on March 14 at 10:30 am,” stated the notice to the PM and others.
It mentioned that in case of failure to submit the written reply, or appearing in person or through counsel, an ex-parte decision will be taken under Section 234 of the Elections Act 2017.
Challenging the ECP’s notices today, federal minister Umar said that the election body cannot ignore the law — Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 — in the field.
Talking to journalists upon arrival at the IHC, he said that the petition, co-signed by PM Imran Khan and himself, has been filed in court.
The minister was of the view that the ECP did not have the authority to interpret the law. Umar said that they requested the court to start hearing the petition immediately.
The ECP and the federation have been made parties in the petition through the Secretary Cabinet.
“Does the ECP have the authority to remove an amendment from the code of conduct of the Elections Act?” PM Imran Khan and Umar asked in the petition.
As per the petition, the ECP violated laws by serving notices to the PTI leaders for attending a public meeting.
After the promulgation of the ordinance, the ECP cannot bar public office holders from attending an election campaign, it maintained.
The petitioners pleaded with the court to declare ECP’s March 10-11 notices null and void.