PTI party files contempt petition against Pakistan Election Commission for allegedly violating top court order to ensure fair elections News
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PTI party files contempt petition against Pakistan Election Commission for allegedly violating top court order to ensure fair elections

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), the political party of detained ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan, asked the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday to find the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and administration members in contempt for violating the court’s December 22 order directing the ECP to ensure fair grounds for the upcoming general election. The PTI alleged that the ECP has neglected to intervene in injustices faced by the party, despite clear directions from the court.

The PTI filed a petition in the Supreme Court through PTI leader and counsel Shoaib Shaheen on behalf of party Chairman Gohar Ali Khan. The petition named Federal Interior Secretary Aftab Akbar Durrani, ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan, chief secretaries, and inspector generals of police from the four provinces. The PTI’s petition claimed that these authorities were collectively working against PTI and its members. It argued that the ECP, as per the constitution, is obligated to take action and issue orders to ensure fair elections with equal opportunities for all parties. However, the petition alleged that the ECP was neglecting the injustice faced by PTI, becoming a party to mistreatment. Despite clear court directions, the petition asserted that the ECP failed to implement them, characterizing this as contempt of court and an unprecedented failure to address PTI’s grievances.

Scheduled for February 8, 2024, the upcoming general election in Pakistan aims to select representatives for the 16th National Assembly. The PTI, a prominent political party, had lodged a constitutional petition claiming that its members face arrests, harassment and the confiscation of nomination papers, amounting to a breach of the principles of fair and open elections. Additionally, the PTI had urged the ECP to ensure an equitable environment for its leaders and supporters, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the integrity of the electoral process in Pakistan.

The Supreme Court, in its December 22 order, stressed the ECP’s role in ensuring past democratic elections. The court urged the ECP to maintain democratic principles and provide equal opportunities for all parties. The court also directed the ECP to swiftly address grievances without disrupting the election timeline, emphasizing the importance of fair elections over results.

Formed on March 23, 1956, under Article 218 of the Pakistan Constitution, the ECP is a permanent constitutional body with full financial autonomy and independence from government control. It is responsible for regulating and conducting honest, just, and fair elections for assemblies, the senate, and local governments, while guarding against corrupt practices as outlined in Article 218(3) of the Pakistan Constitution. However, there have been multiple allegations of unfairness against the ECP by the PTI in recent times.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Peshawar High Court suspended the ECP’s ruling that deemed PTI’s intra-party polls as unconstitutional and withdrew their “bat” symbol. This action had come in response to the court’s consideration of the PTI’s petition challenging these decisions.