IHC likely to announce verdict during current week

Islamabad – Islamabad High Court is likely to announce its verdict on the petition of newly-formed Milli Muslim League challenging the Election Commission’s decision not to enlist it as a political party during the current week.

A single bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq had heard the petition and reserved the verdict after hearing arguments from all the sides.

During the previous hearing, the Interior Ministry in its written reply before the court had termed the MML as an offshoot of banned entities and subsequently opposed its registration as a political party with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The reply said that the ministry had formed its opinion on the basis of a security agency’s report which expressed apprehensions that registration of MML as a political party “would breed violence and extremism in politics.” Therefore, it prayed to the court not to consider MML’s plea and dismiss the petition accordingly.

As per the reply of the interior ministry, MML is the offshoot of the proscribed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), organisations. “The ECP referred the matter to Ministry of Interior to seek clarification of the position of MML with regard to Section 3(4) of Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002,” maintained the ministry.

It added, “After receipt of the matter, the interior ministry processed the case as per procedure and requested the security agencies for report in the matter.” It continued that a security agency opined, “It is difficult to believe that MML will tread its own path, completely at variance with its mother organisations.” The reply said that therefore, the agency, “recommended that since registration of such groups would breed violence and extremism in politics, such groups be avoided”.

The interior ministry further mentioned the response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs against the MML’s registration in view of international obligations.

The reply adopted that the LeT, JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) were facing UN sanctions, therefore, the interior ministry “furnished comments to ECP that registration of MML, an offshoot of the same network of JuD/FIF (apparent in MML as well), was not supported”.

The MML through its president Saifullah Khalid approached the IHC and cited the ECP and Secretary Interior Ministry as respondents in this matter. The petition said that the ECP issued an order dated October 11 whereby it denied enlisting MML as a political party. He added that the said order of the ECP was mala fide without application of independence mind, beyond jurisdiction, non-speaking and evidently inchoate, arbitrary, unreasonable, unfounded and illegal while the same is violation of the Constitution, the Political Parties Order, 2002 and the Political Parties Rules, 2002.

He stated that it was being debated since long that none of the political parties out of almost 352 enlisted by the ECP fulfilled the requirements of a political party in the real sense of the word and represented the people of Pakistan in all the federating units.

“Such political parties instead of promoting harmony, patriotism, ideology of Pakistan, protecting the rights of people of Pakistan promised at the time of creation of Pakistan and enshrined in the Constitution, damaging the identity, ideology of Pakistan, interest of people of Pakistan and doing to protect their personal interests and involved in corruption who had chance to govern the country,” read the petition.

It added that the MML was formed in accordance with the Article 17 (2) of the Constitution read with Article 3 of the PPO, 2002. However, the petitioner said that the ECP without hearing to the petitioner’s counsel declined to enlist the MML as a political party on the grounds that the Ministry of Interior had directed to avoid registering the party.

He adopted that the said order was liable to be set aside and declared as illegal. “Article 17 (2) of the Constitution confers fundamental right of every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, to form or to be a member of a political party, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan,” he maintained.

Therefore, the petitioner prayed to the court that the order might be set aside and the ECP might be directed to scrutinise the documents of the petitioner afresh strictly in accordance with law and enlist the party in its record.

He further requested the court to direct the secretary interior not to interfere in the affairs of the ECP in enlisting the MML as a political party.

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