Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court Friday turned down civil miscellaneous (CM) application of Chairman PTI Imran Khan praying the court to constitute a larger bench to hear his petition wherein he has challenged a disqualification reference pending against him at Election Commission of Pakistan.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice IHC, Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi announced the decision which he had reserved earlier after hearing arguments of both sides. Justice Kasi dismissed the petition after declaring it as non-maintainable. Now, a single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq would conduct hearing of the main petition of Imran Khan in this matter.

Previously, Khan’s counsel Babar Awan Advocate quoted various judgments of the superior judiciary where larger bench were formed to adjudicate matters involving constitutional questions.

However, a Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Fazlur Rehman Niazi opposed the application and said that the petitioner is apprehending dismissal of his main petition and is trying to waste the time.

He adopted that at Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), sometime lawyers appear and sometime they seek adjournments due to their other engagements. This matter is to be decided by the ECP and IHC should allow ECP to decide this matter. But, Babar Awan contended that question related to constitutional time bar is not a joke and it should be decided by a larger bench.

In his petition, Chairman PTI contended that the ECP was bound to decide this reference within 90 days and now when it exceeds the time limit; it has lost its jurisdiction. In the main petition pending before the bench of Justice Aamir Farooq, the IHC bench had sought comments from the attorney general office on the last hearing. Imran Khan has prayed to the court to nullify a disqualification reference pending against him at ECP as it could not decide the matter within 90 days stipulated time.

The ruling PML-N MNAs had filed this reference to the Speaker National Assembly and sought disqualification of Chairman PTI. Later, the Speaker referred the matter to ECP for decision.

Imran Khan had moved this petition through his counsel Babar Awan Advocate and nominated Speaker National Assembly, ECP, MNA Muhammad Tallal Chuadhry, MNA Daniyal Aziz, MNA Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha and MNA Maryam Aurangazeb as respondents.

He contended in the petition that the Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq referred a disqualification reference against him to the ECP that is based on mala fide.

He argued that under Article 63 (2) if Speaker could not decide a reference within 30 days it automatically gets transferred to the ECP. He added that Article 63 (2) reads as, “If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the Speaker or, as the case may be, the chairman Shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the election commission within thirty days and if he fails to do so within thirty days and if he fails to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the election commission.”

Imran Khan maintained that after a reference forwarded to the ECP, election commission is bound to decide this within 90 days-time. Since this reference was forwarded to ECP on September 5, 2016 consequently it completed with its adjudication time on December 4, 2016.

Therefore he prayed to the court to declare the proceedings pending before the ECP as null & void as ECP could not decide the matter within 90 days stipulated time.