PHC orders ECP to decide on PTI intra-party polls case by tomorrow

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PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s intra-party elections and allocation of election symbol case by tomorrow (December 22).

Announcing the reserved verdict, the PHC ordered the election commission to decide on the case as per law.

Earlier today, the high court had reserved its verdict in the case pertaining to the ECP’s notice against PTI’s intra-party elections that could put the PTI at risk of losing its election symbol too.

A two-member bench comprising Justice SM Atiq Shah and Justice Shakeel Ahmed heard the writ petition.

At the outset of the hearing, the PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan apprised the court that the party did not approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC) because they feared that their leaders might be arrested.

Gohar told the court that the PTI candidates would be considered to be independent, if they were not allotted the election symbol by December 22. 

The procedure of intra-party elections had to be decided by the party itself, he maintained, giving an argument in defence of the PTI elections.

He said the party would not be allotted the election symbol ‘bat’ if the intra-party elections were not recognised by the commission. The ECP had been delaying the matters, he alleged.

The PTI chief said his party was being treated indiscriminately.

Presenting the list of PTI’s registered members, he also apprised the court that the one who lodged the complaint in the ECP was not a member of the party.

Barrister Gohar said the ECP had issued a notice to the PTI on its intra-party elections and December 22 was the last day for filing nomination papers for general elections.

“There was no concept of intra-party elections in the 1962 Political Parties Act. In 2002, the intra-party elections were directed to be held through secret ballots,” he said giving a gist about the history of intra-party legislation.

Justice Shah inquired if they were given an election symbol before the general elections. Gohar relayed that the ECP said it would reissue the election symbol for every election. They were not being issued their election symbol, he added.

“We held intra-party polls and submitted the certificate in the ECP in seven days. The election commission has not yet issued their intra-party elections results on its website,” he said.

The PHC asked what the disadvantage was of not issuing the party results on the website and gazette. He replied that they would not be allotted their election symbol if the results were not made public by the commission.