ISLAMABAD - Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday dropped contempt of court proceedings against PTI Chairman Imran Khan after accepting his unconditional written apology.

The PTI chief appeared before the five-member bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza and submitted his apology in two contempt notices.

The bench expressed dissatisfaction over contents of the first apology, but accepted it in the January 9 case. Later, the apology tendered in the September 20 contempt case was also accepted.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had issued two contempt notices against Imran Khan for his past statements in which he had accused the commission of biasness.

The PTI chief last week announced to appear before the commission today after his non-bailable arrest warrants were issued in connection with two contempt petitions filed against him.

PTI counsel Babar Awan, Secretary General Jahangir Tareen, Shafqat Mehmood and Naeemul Haque accompanied Imran Khan to the ECP. The petitioner, PTI dissident Akbar S Babar, was also present during the hearing.

Babar Awan argued the PTI chief had apologised twice for his remarks – first he made in January and the second in September – therefore, there was no room left for contempt proceedings against him.

The five-member bench accepted Imran Khan’s apology over his remarks accusing the ECP of biasness in pursuing the foreign funding case.

However, the bench directed Imran Khan’s counsel Babar Awan to submit a written apology signed by Imran Khan in the second contempt application seeking action against him for the remarks he made about the ECP on September 20 in Karachi.

Imran Khan and his lawyer sought apology. The bench expressed dissatisfaction over the first version, so Awan had to submit an amended version.

“I regret my remarks against the Election Commission,” Awan quoted Imran Khan as saying in the apology. Imran Khan then took the rostrum, saying he had never tried to degrade the ECP. “I have struggled for 21 years for an independent judiciary and justice for all,” Khan said and added the matter had escalated due to some “misunderstanding”.

The PTI chief said his remarks were made in a specific situation and the aim of criticism was to elevate the ECP. “If it is the 21st year of your struggle, it is the 47th year of my law practice,” the chief commissioner responded, prompting Imran Khan to smile.

The bench subsequently concluded the second contempt case against Imran Khan as well.

Later, talking to media persons outside the ECP, Imran Khan said he was glad that the contempt case against him has ended.

He said his criticism was aimed at making the ECP credible so that it could hold free and fair elections in the future.

Imran Khan said his remarks against the ECP were not meant to be personal and were a reaction to the issuance of arrest warrants against him.

After months of foot-dragging over the issue, the PTI announced last week that its chief would voluntarily appear before the ECP. The announcement had come following the ECP’s decision to issue non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran Khan on contempt charges.

The warrants which were suspended by the Islamabad High Court earlier this week were issued on October 12 following Imran Khan’s persistent failure to appear before the ECP on the show-cause notice issued for “defaming and scandalising” the ECP in the foreign funding case.

The contempt application was filed on January 23 this year by PTI founding member and former vice president Akbar S Babar who said he had developed differences with Imran Khan in 2011 over “internal corruption and illegal funding of the PTI”.

The PTI announced Imran Khan would appear before the commission voluntarily and without prejudice to the party’s view about the jurisdiction of the ECP on contempt whereas the ECP said it enjoyed clearly defined powers under the law to try and punish contemnors.

Earlier on September 14, the ECP had issued bailable arrest warrants for Imran Khan following his failure to show up for the contempt of court proceedings. The warrants were later suspended by the IHC on the PTI’s petition.

In August, the ECP had issued a second show-cause notice to Imran Khan after he failed to reply to the earlier notice regarding the contempt of court proceedings against him.

Imran Khan had initially challenged the maintainability of the contempt petition and raised objections over ECP’s jurisdiction to initiate contempt proceedings against him. The commission, however, declared on August 10 that it had the legal right to hear the contempt case.

 

 

ECP drops contempt case against apologetic Imran