ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf did not show in annual account statements that it had received foreign or prohibited funding.

Ibrahim Satti advocate, representing the ECP, contended that PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the last four years filed affidavits with the party’s account statements, but never mentioned that his party had received foreign funding.

Akram Sheikh advocate, appearing on behalf of petitioner Hanif Abbasi, said PTI had received donations from foreign nationals, multinational corporations and ghost donors. He said from February 2010 to June 2013, Texas PTI collected $2.344 million while California PTI received $1.137 million from 2013 to 2017. He said the apex court can’t close its eyes on this issue, adding it has to look into it.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, was hearing PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi’s petition against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and General Secretary Jehangir Tareen.

The chief justice observed these amounts are not reflected in the PTI accounts. However, PTI lawyer Anwar Mansoor contended the amount had been reflected. Justice Saqib said: “We will go into depth as we have to probe this matter.”

Akram Sheikh questioned if PTI had provided the chartered accountants with a complete list of donors. The accountants would prepare their report on the basis of this information, he added. Akram argued the party had no record of the names or addresses of the donors.

The ECP counsel also said a former leader of PTI, Akbar Sher Babar, had filed an application in the ECP in 2014 that the party was receiving funds from foreign countries. He said the Commission passed an order on it on 08-10-2015, but the PTI challenged the ECP order in Islamabad High Court, which remained pending with the court for almost one year. He said when the IHC remanded the PTI petition to the Commission, a detailed order on Babar’s petition was passed by it on 31-05-2017.

Ibrahim argued although the ECP was not a court, it had the administrative authority. The ECP had plenary jurisdiction to probe and scrutinise the accounts of a political party anytime. It is also empowered to probe foreign funding as well as prohibited sources and to pass an order under Rule 6 of Political Parties Rules (PPR) 2002.

Satti stated the ECP was the only machinery to enquire/trace foreign prohibited funding and take appropriate action in accordance with rule 6 of the PPR 2002.

He said the issue of past and closed transaction was never accepted or applicable to cases of fraud, mala fide actions, dishonest statements and suppression and concealment of facts. When brought to the knowledge of these aspects, the ECP could legally reopen the matter and proceed in accordance with the law. He said the ECP could take cognizance of the foreign funding and prohibited sources of funding on its own or information or application of any person. “When the ECP comes to know that any fraud has been committed or concealment of facts has been made or there is misrepresentation, it is fully empowered to take action,” he argued.

“If the ECP comes to the conclusion that the political party has received foreign aid or prohibited funds, it can pass an order to confiscate funds under Section 15 of Political Parties Order, 2002. This is applicable to the situation where the political party declares in its statement submitted yearly before the ECP that it has received foreign funding/prohibited funds. But where the party withholds and suppresses such information intentionally, its consequences are different,” he added.

He argued, “If it is established that the head of a political party makes a false statement duly verified before the ECP in respect of foreign aid or prohibited funding, the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) has the power to pass an order for his disqualification under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” he added.

The court made it clear that they had not appointed the chartered accountant from Ferguson Company as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in this case. But he was assisting Imran Khan’s counsel, Naeem Bukhari.

The case waqs adjourned until today (Wednesday).