Supreme Court serves notice to Imran Khan in ECP contempt case

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ISLAMABAD, NOV 15: The Supreme Court Tuesday served notices to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his aides — Fawad Chaudhry and Asad Umar — in contempt of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) case.

A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ayesha A Malik, and Justice Athar Minallah heard the case filed by the ECP to transfer all its contempt cases against PTI leaders from different high courts to a single one.

The election commission has accused the ex-premier of levelling “baseless allegations” against the ECP and its chief in his addresses on July 18, 21, 27, August 4 and 10.

Today’s hearing

During the course of proceedings, the bench remarked that the election commission requested to transfer the cases pending in different high courts to one high court.

The ECP was of the opinion that they should prepare for local and general elections or had to fight cases in different courts, it added.

The chief justice said that the ECP also presented a judicial precedent of merging cases with the order of the Supreme Court. The Election Commission is relying on Article 186A, he added.

He asked the ECP counsel whether there was a precedent of the Supreme Court to merge the cases of different high courts. At this, the lawyer said that the top court ordered the consolidation of income tax cases pending in various high courts in 1999.  Upon this, the CJP said that clubbing of cases pending in different high courts must have the same point of law. He asked who were the petitioners in contempt of election commission cases in the high courts.

The counsel replied that PTI leaders Khan, Chaudhry, and Umar had filed cases against the election commission in the different high courts.

Justice Malik said that the Supreme Court, in the PEMRA cases, had declared that the high court cases would continue and would not be clubbed.

But Justice Minallah said that the Supreme Court had clubbed all the cases of the high courts in the Hajj assistants case.

The ECP counsel said that cases of the same nature would have conflicting judgments in different high courts.

Justice Malik said that the apex court would decide when the conflicting decisions are challenged before the Supreme Court.

The Chief Justice asked under which constitutional authority did the Supreme Court order clubbing of cases pending in the different high courts.

The counsel then said that the injunctions of the high courts in the contempt of election commission case had also been challenged in the Supreme Court.

The court directed the ECP petitions against the injunction of the high courts should also be fixed with this case.

Subsequently, the hearing of the case was adjourned for two weeks.

Petition

The ECP, in its petition, had stated that it had issued contempt notices to PTI chief Khan as well as other party leaders, including Umar and Chaudhry in the months of August and September.

However, these notices were challenged in high courts.

The ECP noted that under Section 10 of the Election Act, 2017, it had the authority to initiate contempt proceedings being a constitutional body.

The commission further stated that Khan and Chaudhry had challenged the contempt notices before the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench, while Asad Umar had challenged it before the Sindh High Court.

Another one was challenged before the Islamabad High Court.