ISLAMABAD -  The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday gave reasons for issuing a show cause notice to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for his “derogatory remarks against the commission”.

In its short order on August 10, the ECP had rejected Khan’s objections to the commission’s jurisdiction to initiate contempt of court proceedings and ruled that it had the legal right to hear the contempt case. Khan has been asked to submit a reply by August 23.

In its detailed verdict, the commission said that the “respondent (Khan) has been given unnecessary latitude through adjournments is hereby issued a notice to show cause as to why he be not proceeded for contempt of the commission under section 103A of the ROPA, 1976 read with section 3 and other provisions of the contempt of court ordinance 2003 as well as Article 204 of the Constitution.”

The verdict states that “the commission on the very first day had remarked that Khan has not submitted an apology. This has been remarked that good sense might prevail with him to tender the apology. “Latitude was provided to avoid contempt proceedings till it became unavoidable.”

Regarding the locus standi of Akbar S Babar to file the contempt application, the verdict said that “before us, it is filed by a person no other and no less than the main petitioner himself, who is a direct party to the proceedings.”

The verdict has cited several case laws to emphasize that the powers of contempt once conferred on the ECP cannot be taken away through subsequent amendments to law unless specifically mentioned. The eight-page detailed verdict has been signed by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza and all four members of the ECP.

The verdict stated that “in view of section 103A of ROPA, 1976, the commission is vested with the same powers of contempt as are vested in a high court under Article 204 of the Constitution”.

Referring to the delaying tactics employed by  Khan’s lawyer, the verdict stated that “various adjournments were sought on various pretexts. Different Vakalatnamas were filed and at the end, Babar Awan was engaged who raised an objection to the proceedings on the ground that the ECP had no powers to precede for its contempt”.

Referring to Khan’s lawyer’s argument that with the repeal of Contempt of Court Act, 1976, the ECP had lost the powers of contempt, the verdict states that “whenever an institution is vested with such executive-cum-judicial powers and, above all, to maintain its independence, it has to be vested with powers to implement its orders in case those are not complied with”. It stated that “so far as the powers once given to the commission are concerned those cannot be curtailed under Article 222 of the Constitution”.