ISLAMABD - The Islamabad High Court Wednesday served notices on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Akbar S Babar in a petition wherein PTI Chairman Imran Khan has challenged contempt of court proceedings initiated against him by the ECP.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb conducted hearing of the petition moved by Imran Khan through his counsel Babar Awan Advocate and issued notices to the respondents.

After issuing the notices, the court deferred the hearing in this case till September 11 for further proceedings.

According to the petition, the ECP had turned down Imran Khan’s objection petition on August 10, where he had challenged contempt of court proceedings against him, saying the ECP has no such powers to proceed for a contempt case against him.

Therefore, he requested the court to set aside ECP’s August 10 order and declare all other contempt related proceedings void, unlawful and without lawful authority.

In his petition, he made ECP and Akbar S Babar, a disgruntled member of PTI who is petitioner in PTI’s foreign funding case, as respondents.

Babar Awan adopted in the petition that Contempt of Court Act, 1976, is repealed by the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, and contempt proceedings are carried out through the Ordinance of 2003 in Pakistan.

He added that previously, power of contempt before ECP was provided through Section 103A of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1976, wherein it is clearly mentioned that the rules under contempt of court are applicable. Imran’s counsel maintained that amendments were also proposed by the National Assembly in election bill 2017 and powers of contempt are given to ECP through Section 10 of the bill. “If the election commission already had such powers then why section 10 is inserted in the new election bill,” he questioned.

In addition, he said, it is abundantly clear that ECP had “no powers prior to this proposed amendment.”

He continued that ECP has no power to initiate proceedings under Article 204 (Contempt of Court) of the Constitution, adding that no party can be left remedy less and “it is the worst case of abuse of process of law and the impugned order is whimsical, malafide on law and facts as well as based on abundant bias”.

The petitioner stated in the petition that Akbar S Babar had filed a petition before ECP against the PTI chairman and PTI had submitted written reply before the electoral poll body in due course of law. Later, he said, ECP initiated proceeding against Imran in terms of the order dated 16-01-2017.

In the order of ECP, Justice (Retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, Chairman ECP observed that Imran filed an application for the review on an order passed on December 1, 2016 but the perusal of the application indicated “blatant disregard of the Constitutional institutions against which filthy and totally false remarks have been passed qua the Commission.”

The ECP chairman added that “no civilised person is expected to malign constitutional institutions … it appears that the legal as well as civilised manner to be adopted in such proceedings are avoided in order to play politics with the institute from which the remedies are sought.”

He added that the commission shuns and deprecates the attitude and politics being played with the commission. Later, Imran’s counsel Saqlain Haider submitted an unconditional apology seeking disposal of the application as withdrawn and it was accepted. However, Justice Raza’s order read that there is no apology on behalf of Imran and “compliance of the order dated 01-12-2016 be made on 23-01-2017.”

Subsequently, the counsel raised objections to the proceedings on grounds that the ECP has no power to proceed for its contempt’s. After hearing the petition, the ECP dismissed the same on August 10 which led to the instant petition.

In the current petition, Chairman PTI prayed to the court to set aside contempt proceedings initiated against him by the ECP declaring these unlawful and void.