- IHC tells govt has opened “ordinance factory”.
- Court sends notice to ECP to hear its side.
- It also rejects plea to suspend ECP’s notice.
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday rejected Prime Minister Imran Khan and Miniter for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar’s plea to suspend the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) notice against them today from partaking in a rally related to the local body polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The ECP had on March 11 issued a notice to the prime minister and several other PTI leaders for attending a public gathering in Lower Dir, with the notice being challenged in the IHC on Thursday.
Representing the prime and federal minister in today’s hearing, Barrister Ali Zafar told Justice Amir Farooq — who heard the case — that on February 19, Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 had been promulgated that allowed public officeholders to partake in election campaigns.
However, he said the ECP had, on March 10, called a meeting and passed an order that barred the public officeholders from taking part in election rallies and campaigns.
At this, Justice Farooq remarked that the government was “bypassing the Parliament and taking support of ordinances to get things done.”
“With due respect, you (government) have established an ordinance factory; the work of the Parliament is being done through ordinances,” the judge said.
The IHC judge said the Constitution’s Article 218 has authorised the ECP to conduct free and fair elections. “And the election commission has given its reference [in their order].”
The judge wondered whether constitutional rights could be revoked by introducing various laws. “The Constitution has given a mandate which cannot be overruled through an act of the Parliament.”
Justice Farooq told the judge that his clients should have appeared before the commission on March 14 as it had summoned them for the violation of election rules — and also warned them of action.
‘You should have appeared before ECP’
Responding to the judge, barrister Zafar said the election commission did not have the authority to issue a notice to his clients and requested the IHC to suspend the ECP’s notice and stop it from taking further action.
At this, the judge asked whether the barrister was eligible to decide what was right and wrong. “You should have appeared before the commission. Your conduct was fallacious.”
The judge said that if his clients cannot appear before the commission, he, as their lawyer, should appear before the electoral body.
Adjourning the hearing till March 28, the judge said the court was not suspending the ECP’s notice to PM Imran Khan and Umar. The IHC issued a notice to the ECP and said it wanted to hear the electoral body’s argument as well.