IHC suspends ECP’s verdict on transfer of poll pleas to new tribunal

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DNA

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order, wherein it had transferred multiple poll rigging petitions to a new tribunal.

The case was heard by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq who also issued a contempt of court notice to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Anjum Aqeel Khan, directing him to ensure his appearance before the court in every hearing.

The electoral body’s four-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, on June 10 approved the petitions from PML-N lawmakers seeking transfer of the cases, wherein their win in the February 8 polls was challenged by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) backed independent candidates.

The petitions were filed by PML-N’s Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Aqeel Khan and Raja Khurram Nawaz whose rival candidates in the general election were PTI-backed Muhammad Ali Bokhari, Shoaib Shaheen and Aamir Mughal.

In response, the PTI-backed independent candidates then moved the IHC against the ECP’s decision, with the court initially barring the new tribunals from hearing the cases.

During the hearing today, IHC CJ Farooq directed PML-N lawmaker Anjum to read his affidavit submitted in the ECP.

“What is the meaning of the word nepotism? Explain it to me,” the chief justice said.

“My English is very weak […] These are legal terminologies, I apologise unconditionally to the court”, the politician said in response.

“This is not at all a legal terminology,” CJ Farooq replied.

When asked by the chief justice whether he had signed the affidavit without reading it, the PML-N lawmaker answered in the affirmative.

Referring to the legislator’s petition in the ECP for the transfer of the case to a new tribunal, the CJ questioned how the tribunal judge was biased.

“Did you want to change him [judge] because he wasn’t giving you undue favours?” the CJ questioned.

“I didn’t ask for any favours,” Anjum replied.

“[Then] why did you accuse the judge [of bias]? Why did you ask the lawyer to submit an application [to ECP]? the chief justice inquired.

The court then adjourned the case till July 9.