ECP begins process to remove Imran as PTI chief

Mumtaz Alvi
Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday initiated the process to remove Imran Khan as PTI chairman following his disqualification in the widely-discussed Toshakhana reference.

According to ECP sources, a notice has been issued to Imran and the case has been fixed for hearing on December 13, the day the electoral body will also resume hearing on a show cause notice to the PTI on the basis of the foreign funding case judgement.

Reacting to the notice, a senior PTI leader questioned on what legal basis, the notice was issued and said it had already been decided to write to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja for explanation. He insisted that there was no legal footing to remove a party leader and there was no bar on any convicted person from leading or becoming an office-bearer of a political party.

The Elections Act 2017 has not retained the provision, which was part of Section 5 (1) of the erstwhile Political Parties Order 2002, which read, “Every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, shall have the right to form or be a member of a political party or be otherwise associated with a political party or take part in political activities or be elected as an office-bearer of a political party: provided that a person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being, elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora under Article 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or under any other law for the time being in force….”

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, headed by then chief justice Saqib Nisar in 2018 and consisting of Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, had heard petitions challenging the Elections Act 2017. The three-member bench ruled in its judgement that former premier Nawaz Sharif did not qualify to serve as PMLN president.

In October last, the commission had disqualified Imran in the Toshakhana reference under Article 63 (1) (p) for making ‘false statements and an incorrect declaration’ and the written order read that the respondent had ‘intentionally and deliberately’ violated the provisions contained [in] Sections 137, 167 and 173 of the Elections Act 2017, as he ‘has made false statements and an incorrect declaration before the commission in the statement of assets and liabilities filed by him for the year 2020-21. The ECP also said in its order, “Accordingly, he (Imran Khan) ceases to be a member of the National Assembly and legal proceedings will be initiated against him under Section 190 (2) of the Elections Act 2017.”