Home World News poll body on Imran Khan’s plea challenging disqualification

poll body on Imran Khan’s plea challenging disqualification

The Lahore High Court on Friday issued notice to Pakistan’s top election body on former prime minister Imran Khan’s plea challenging his five-year disqualification in the Toshakhana corruption case, which would prevent him from contesting general elections in February.

A five-member bench also said it would first decide on the jurisdiction of the petition before it was formally heard, but in the absence of the lawyer representing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), adjourned the hearing not before issuing a notice to the poll body.

The ECP had on August 8 disqualified Khan, 71, currently lodged in Adiala Jail at Rawalpindi, following his conviction in the Toshakhana corruption case for concealing details of the gifts he received during his tenure as the prime minister.

Khan wants his petition to be heard on an urgent basis as he wants to run for the general elections, the date for which has been announced as February 8 by the ECP.

Earlier, a trial court in Islamabad had found him guilty of “corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from the national exchequer willfully and intentionally.” On August 29, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had suspended Khan’s sentence in the case.

“In a petition filed earlier this month, the former prime minister said the ECP, despite his clear explanations for the Toshakhana gifts, illegally de-seated him as a Member of the National Assembly (MNA) from Mianwali’s NA-95 constituency and directed that a complaint be filed against him under the Elections Act 2017,” Dawn.com reported.

Khan was elected to the National Assembly from Mianwali in Punjab province in 2018. He had also asked the court to set aside his disqualification for being unlawful so that he could contest the upcoming general elections.

Last week, a senior judge of the high court had referred the petition to the larger bench as it already seized an identical matter relating to the ECP proceedings against the former chairman of the PTI, the report said.

Barrister Ali Zafar appeared in the court on behalf of Khan when the bench headed by Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan and comprising Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza, Justice Shahid Karim, Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry and Justice Jawad Hassan, took up the plea.

Justice Bilal noted that the bench would first decide on the jurisdiction of the petition before it was formally heard. He inquired about the lawyer representing the electoral body and was later told that the ECP counsel was on leave. The judge then said that it would be inappropriate to hear the case in the absence of the lawyer, the newspaper said.

At one point, highlighting the urgency of the petition, Barrister Zafar stated that the ECP had given a date of February 8 for the general elections, to which Justice Mirza said, “Your client was elected from Mianwali. How can the Islamabad High Court hear this case then? Present your arguments on this at the next hearing.” Last week, the IHC rejected Imran’s application to withdraw his appeal against disqualification in the Toshakhana reference for him to pursue the matter in the LHC.

The court subsequently issued notices to the ECP and adjourned the hearing.

The bench also passed similar orders on a separate petition, filed by Khan, challenging the cancellation of the PTI’s intra-party polls held last year. The plea had asked the LHC to declare that the intra-party elections conducted on June 10, 2022, were valid by the party’s constitution.

Speaking to the media outside the LHC, Barrister Zafar said he hoped the issue would be resolved soon so that Khan could also take part in the upcoming electi