The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has decided to file a ‘judicial reference’ against Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja and other members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for allegedly violating code of conduct.
Former premier and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday formally directed his legal team to initiate the process of filing the reference against the CEC and ECP members for meeting a delegation of the ruling alliance and discussing the prohibited funding case against PTI with them.
The PTI officials said that the ex-premier while formally giving approval for filing of reference against CEC in a meeting with party leadership also approved presenting resolutions against the ECP chief and others in two provincial assemblies, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where PTI is currently in power.
On July 29, a delegation comprising members of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – PPP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan – met ECP officials and urged them to announce long-delayed judgement in PTI’s prohibited funding case and take action against it at the earliest as it was ECP’s ‘constitutional responsibility’.
Also read: ECP pushed for early PTI funding verdict
Earlier on Saturday, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry had revealed in a press conference that PTI was mulling over filing of a reference against Raja and others, saying discussing PTI’s funding case with the government side was a gross violation of code of conduct.
“Chief Election Commissioner has met PDM regarding the case yesterday. This is against all norms of his code of conduct.”-@fawadchaudhry pic.twitter.com/EKOH7D5jUA
— PTI (@PTIofficial) July 30, 2022
During the media interaction, Fawad said that the CEC and ECP members’ salaries are equal to that of the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, respectively, adding that their perks and privileges were also equal to the judges of the superior judiciary. Similarly, Fawad continued, the code of conduct of the superior courts applies on the CEC and its members, saying no judge meets any party to discuss a case pending before him.
“This meeting [between government side and ECP officials] was a gross violation of the code of conduct of the Election Commission of Pakistan and the judiciary,” Fawad said, asking how come the CEC and its members could have met with the members of the ruling alliance when it has to decide a case of one of their opponent party.
Fawad gave an example of the chief justice of Pakistan, who recently refused to meet members of the bar council when he was hearing the case pertaining to Punjab’s chief ministership as they were a party in the case, saying the CJP followed a high moral and legal principal by not meeting with the members of the bar council.
Subsequently, Fawad accused the CEC and the ECP members, who met the government delegation of violating the code of conduct by ignoring the high moral and legal principals. He regretted that the ECP officials not only met with the members of the rival party in a pending case but “assured them that we [ECP] will decide the case”. He said that the government side also addressed a press conference following the meeting.
“We are discussing the matter with our legal team in connection with the violation of the code of conduct,” Fawad said, adding, “It’s a fit case to proceed against the election commissioner and its members; a reference should be sent to judicial commission [of Pakistan] and they should be sacked.”
Fawad reiterated that the current crisis in the country were because of not holding elections, saying the CEC had informed the Supreme Court that ECP can’t conduct elections before October 2022 when the apex court was hearing the case of former NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri’s ruling over no-confidence motion against Imran Khan.
“The current crises in the country are because of that statement of the election commission,” Fawad said. He said that it was ECP’s constitutional responsibility but it refused back then and strengthened the incumbent government’s agenda, which, he said, has destroyed the country.
Among other things, Fawad took at jibe at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, saying that he has lost majority in all the provinces and was practically the premier of the capital’s civic body – the Capital Development Authority.
Also read: PTI directly benefited from foreign funding: FT
Also, while referring to a story published in the Financial Times about how funds collected through charity cricket matches were sent to PTI said that there was nothing new in the report as the money received has already been declared.
PPP accuses PTI of blackmailing
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Peoples Party has termed the PTI’s decision of filing a reference against CEC as “blackmailing”.
Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said that the decision to file a reference against CEC is tantamount to blackmailing, saying PTI was pressuring ECP to delay the verdict of funding case.
“An independent institution cannot be intimidated by threats,” the senator said. Mandviwalla said that Imran Khan himself used to praise CEC, asking what has happened now that he no longer has faith in the same CEC. Despite reservations, he said, PPP stands with ECP.