ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court may appoint the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as judicial commission to determine whether the foreign funds received by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are from prohibited sources or not.

The chief justice asked the PTI counsel to file a reply whether to refer the matter of obtaining foreign funding from alleged prohibited sources be sent to the ECP.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi’s petition against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, Imran Khan, and the PTI General-Secretary, Jehangir Khan.

Anwar Mansoor, representing the PTI, submitted that the issue of party’s foreign funds was past and closed transaction therefore now the ECP cannot reopen it.

Justice Atta Bandial asked, “Can a political party disown its past?”

The chief justice said that as the matter was sub-judice before the election commission then it was a good idea that the ECP should made determination on the foreign funding from prohibited sources.

Justice Saqib said: “If we give any findings or opinion on this matter then it would be binding upon the ECP, which will not be good. Therefore let the ECP determine whether the foreign funding was from the prohibited sources or not and submit the report in the apex court.”

The chief justice further said that if they gave their findings then what would be left for the ECP.

Anwar Mansoor contended that under the law the parties were not registered with the ECP, but were formed when the ECP allotted them symbols, adding before that two things were required.

First the parties hold intra-party election under Section 12 of the PPO, and second requirement was that they submit their account certified by the charted accountant in the ECP.

The counsel argued that the PTI had submitted its audit report certified by the charted accountant in 2010, adding the PML-N candidate who contested election in 2013 against Imran Khan did not challenge the funds received by the PTI.  After six years a strange person has approached the ECP.

He said that under Section 15 of Political Parties Order the federation could confiscate the funds of the party, if it came to its knowledge that those were from prohibited sources.

The counsel said that Imran Khan had given certificate about the party funding on the basis of audit report of the party. Mansoor argued that if it was proven that the PTI was receiving funds from prohibited sources then the chartered accountant, who had certified the party’s accounts, should be held responsible.

He earlier explained the foreign funds being received by the PTI from Pakistani nationals living abroad.

Individuals send contribution or donation ranging from $300 to $400.

However, the party received a large amount of $97,680 from an individual, therefore Imran Khan had issued direction that it should not be accepted, and it be send back. Justice Atta Bandial observed that it was issued in 2016 when the case against the PTI in this regard started in the election commission. “These can be engineered,” he said, and added first the party received the amount but then issued direction.

However, the chief justice did not seem satisfied with the explanation, and said: “We are not satisfied.”

Mansoor said that his case was that the people who had sent the funds from abroad were not foreign national but were Pakistanis living abroad and had citizenship of other countries as well.  Justice Faisal Arab asked what was the difference between “foreign” and “dual” nationals.

Mansoor earlier explained that there was a difference between “contribution”, “donation” and the “funds”, adding the PTI received “donations” from Pakistanis living abroad.

However, the charter of the PTI Liability Limited Company says they receive “funds”. Justice Bandial questioned as to whether the disqualification did not apply to contribution received from dual nationals.

The counsel replied that 16 countries in the world allowed dual nationality to Pakistani nationals. The case was adjourned till Thursday.