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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 449, 6 December 2022

ECP moves to remove Imran Khan as PTI Chief



What does the ruling say about Imran Khan?

Bhoomika Sesharaj

On 5 December, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) set a motion to remove Imran Khan as the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). This move is taken in the context of the ECP’s verdict in the Toshakhana case, which had disqualified Imran Khan for making “false statements and incorrect declaration.” An ECP official said that a notice has been sent out to Imran Khan and that the case has been fixed for hearing on 13 December. PTI leaders confirmed the development of the case but claimed that the law does not hold any interdiction on a convict on being an office-bearer of a political party. This provision, however, remains refuted according to the Elections Act of 2017, which disqualified a person from being the head of a political party if they came under Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.

What did the ruling say?
On 21 October, the ECP ruled a verdict against Imran Khan and disqualified him in the Toshkhana reference under Article 63 for “intentionally and deliberately” violating the provisions of the Elections Act of 2017, and said that he had made false statements before the ECP in his testimonies regarding his assets and liabilities filing in 2021-2022. The ECP had said that Imran Khan “attracts” disqualification under these sections and that he consequently “ceases” to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, with his seat becoming “vacant accordingly.”  Article 63 of the Constitution states that an individual is “for the time being” disbarred from being chosen as a member of the parliament “under any law” and that he could also step down as the chairman of the PTI. Imran Khan’s lawyers said that the verdict would be challenged in the Islamabad High Court and that the decision was ambiguous. They held that the verdict was “silly”  and that it would be “meaningless” under Article 62. Speaking about the limited “parameters” of Article 63, they also said that the ECP’s decision lacks a concrete “reasoning” of the law of the country and that the ECP is not a court of law. 

The ruling also precedes a petition that is seeking to remove Imran Khan as the chairman of the PTI following his disqualification which is impending before the Lahore High Court. The petition sought the barring of Imran Khan’s chairmanship under Article 63 of the Constitution, which terms it a “legal and constitutional requirement” for party officeholders to be qualified in accordance with Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. It also said that Imran Khan’s disqualification from his constituency was “just” for him to be de-notified as the chairman and that an order should be pursued to this effect. 

Imran Khan files plea against FIA 
On 5 December, the LHC’s registrar's office fixed a hearing for Imran Khan’s petition against the summons by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in context to an inquiry about the audio leak of the audio cipher controversy.  The petition claimed that the alleged audio released by the government had “jeopardised” the security of Imran Khan and was a “blatant” violation fundamental rights of the petitioner. The petition contended that the summoning is “absolutely unclear” as to what offence Imran Khan is being inquired for. Additionally, the petition also asked the LHC to “set aside” the notice by declaring it being issued “without jurisdiction” and to “quash” the inquiry, citing that the petitioner had “no wrongdoing whatsoever” in the inquiry. (Iftikhar A Khan, “ECP whirrs into action to remove Imran from PTI top slot,” Dawn, 6 December 2022; Fahad Chaudhary, “Imran Khan disqualified in Toshakhana reference,” Dawn, 21 October 2022)

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