Islamabad - Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi has constituted a special three-member bench to hear Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s appeal wherein he has challenged the show-cause notice issued to him by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for committing contempt of court.

The special three-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb will conduct hearing of Imran’s petition today (Monday). In this matter, Imran Khan has moved the court through his counsel Babar Awan Advocate and cited ECP and Akbar S Babar, a disgruntled member of PTI who is petitioner in PTI’s foreign funding case, as respondents.

According to the petition, the ECP had turned down Imran Khan’s objection petition on August 10, where he had challenged contempt of court proceedings against him saying that ECP has no such powers to proceed with a contempt case against him. Therefore, he requested the court to set aside ECP’s August 10 order and declare all other contempt related proceedings void, and unlawful. Babar Awan adopted in the petition that Contempt of Court Act, 1976, is repealed by the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, and contempt proceedings are carried out through the Ordinance of 2003 in Pakistan.

He added that previously, power of contempt was provided through Section 103A of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1976.

Imran’s counsel maintained that amendments were also proposed by the National Assembly in election bill 2017 and powers of contempt were given to ECP through Section 10 of the bill. “If the election commission already had such powers then why was section 10 inserted in the new election bill?” he questioned. He said that it is abundantly clear that ECP had “no powers prior to this proposed amendment.” He continued the case against Imran is an abuse of the process of law.

The petitioner stated that Akbar S Babar had filed a petition before ECP against the PTI chairman. PTI had submitted written reply before the electoral poll body in due course of law. Later ECP initiated proceeding against Imran in terms of the order dated 16-01-2017.

In the order of ECP, Justice (Retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, Chairman ECP  observed that Imran filed an application for the review on an order passed on December 1, 2016 but the perusal of the application indicated “blatant disregard to the constitutional institutions against which filthy and totally false remarks have been passed qua the Commission.”

The ECP chairman added: “no civilised person should malign Constitutional institutions.” He added that the commission shuns and deprecates the attitude of PTI towards it. It was later reported that Imran’s counsel Saqlain Haider submitted an unconditional apology seeking disposal of the application. The apology was accepted.

However, Justice Raza’s order read that there is no apology on behalf of Imran and “compliance of the order dated 01-12-2016 to be made on 23-01-2017.” Subsequently, the counsel raised objections over the proceedings on the grounds that the ECP has no power to proceed with the contempt. After hearing the petition, the ECP dismissed the same on August 10 which led to the instant petition.