ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Tuesday moved to the Islamabad High Court challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) order, barring party heads, members of Parliament and government functionaries from visiting any constituency to run election campaigns.

The PTI chief through his counsel Babar Awan has made the ECP through its chairman and director general (elections) of the ECP as respondents.

The petitioner contended that being the head of a political party, he addresses various campaigns for bye-elections throughout the country and it is his right under the Article 16 of the Constitution regarding a peaceful assembly.

He adopted that under the Constitution, no restriction could be imposed on any person barring under the law and if restrictions were imposed, those were just to maintain public order.

Khan maintained that he and his party have a commendable record of holding peaceful and unarmed rallies, sit-ins for an unprecedented period of 126 days, which proves the fact that the petitioner and his party believe in the supremacy of law, the constitution and the public order.

He said that to the surprise of the petitioner, the ECP on April 16, 2015, issued notifications whereby initially restrictions were imposed on the president, the prime minister, chief ministers, state ministers, governors and advisers to visit any area of any constituency or give any subscription or donation in such constituencies. 

Later, he said, MNAs and MPAs were also included in this notification. He said that the said notifications were challenged before a high court which declared these notifications as null and void. 

Then, the ECP filed appeals before the Supreme Court and the apex court in September 2015 passed an interim order through which operation of the high court judgment was suspended and the ECP notifications were revived.

Imran said that the ECP on February 6, 2017, issued notices to the petitioner for visiting different constituencies in the province of Punjab. He contended that these notices were wholly illegal, mala-fide and without lawful authority.

He argued that the petitioner was an aggrieved party because being the head of a political party he could not even visit constituencies during the campaign for by-elections.

The petitioner maintained that for all practical purposes and intent, it is the opposition which was put at disadvantage and these notifications were for the advantage of treasury benches.

The PTI chief prayed to the court to declare the impugned notifications and proceedings pending against the petitioner at the ECP as void and illegal.