ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court on Friday reserved its verdict in a Milli Muslim League petition challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision against its registration as a political party.

A single bench of IHC, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, reserved the verdict after hearing arguments of all the sides.

The MML, through its president Saifullah Khalid, approached the IHC and made the ECP and the interior secretary respondents in the matter.

The petitioner stated in the petition that the ECP issued an order on October 11 denying registration of MML as a political party. He said the ECP order was mala fide, beyond jurisdiction, arbitrary, unreasonable, unfounded and illegal as well as against the Constitution, Political Parties Order, 2002, and Political Parties Rules, 2002.

The petitioner contended none of the 352 political parties enlisted by the ECP fulfilled the requirements of a political party in the real sense of the word and did not represent the people of Pakistan in all the federating units. “Such political parties, instead of promoting harmony, patriotism, ideology of Pakistan, protecting the rights of the people promised at the time of its creation and enshrined in the Constitution, are damaging the identity and ideology of Pakistan, ignoring interests of the people , watching their personal interests and committing corruption on coming to power,” read the petition.

It added MML was founded as a political party in accordance with Article 17(2) of the Constitution read with Article 3 of the PPO, 2002, but the ECP, without hearing the petitioner’s counsel, declined to enlist it on October 11. The petitioner claimed the ECP had declined to enlist MML as a political party on the advice of the Ministry of Interior.

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

He prayed to the court to set aside the order and direct ECP to scrutinise the documents afresh, strictly in accordance with the law and enlist the party.

The petitioner further prayed to the court to direct the interior secretary not to interfere in the affairs of the MML registration.