SC issues notices to top Punjab officials on PTI’s plea seeking level-playing field

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP), chief secretary and advocate general on  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) petition seeking level-playing field ahead of the February 8 general elections.

A three-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musrat Hilali heard the matter and adjourned the hearing of the case till January 8.

The proceedings of the case were broadcast live on SC’s website and YouTube channel.

PTI lawyer Latif Khosa presented arguments on behalf of Advocate Shoaib Shaheen, who filed the appeal in the court.

On December 22, the top court directed the ECP to address the PTI’s concerns regarding the level-playing field on the former ruling party’s petition.

In line with the court’s order, the ECP representatives met the PTI delegation and assured them of addressing its grievances in the lead up to the February 8 national vote.

However, the party filed another petition on December 26, seeking contempt of court proceedings against the ECP over the electoral body’s alleged failure to ensure a level-playing field.

In its petition, it lamented the electoral body’s failure to implement the apex court’s directions — despite being notified by the Punjab ECP — wherein it had ordered the poll organising authority to address the PTI’s concerns.

The application referred to the top court’s ruling, in response to the PTI’s earlier petition filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution complaining of being denied equal opportunities in the political arena, where it directed the electoral body to meet with the party’s representatives and address its relevant concerns.

The party, in its recent application, contends that the ECP secretary failed to abide by the apex court’s December 22 verdict as PTI candidates continued to be harassed and arrested even after the top court’s ruling.

Furthermore, the plea — which mentions the ECP and interior secretaries as parties to the case along with the Inspector General Police (IGPs) of all four provinces — also levels serious allegations against the Punjab IG, labelling him as the “mastermind” behind the crackdown against the PTI.

Seeking action against those responsible for violating the court’s order, the party had prayed to the court to ensure that its candidates are allowed to hold rallies and political gatherings.

Hearing 

At the outset of the hearing, CJP Isa reprimanded Khosa for using the Sardar title with his name.

“Stop using words like Sardar, Nawab and Peer,” the CJP said while expressing displeasure over the use of such a title.

CJP Isa asked Khosa to show evidence that the ECP had violated the court’s direction regarding the redressal of PTI’s level-playing field grievances.

“I have brought the CD containing all evidence,” Khosa replied adding that the PTI leaders were not allowed to submit their nomination papers.

“The entire Pakistan has seen what is happening with PTI.”

At this, the CJP advised the PTI counsel against making “political speech” in the courtroom and asked him to only talk about the Constitution and law.

The CJP inquired whether the petition was accusing of the IG and the chief secretary behind the actions against the PTI leader.