Tehreek-i-Insaf moves PHC for polls under supervision of judiciary
PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Thursday filed a petition with the Peshawar High Court seeking directives for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the upcoming elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through judicial officers under the supervision of the judiciary.
Petitioner Mohammad Muazzam Butt, a senior lawyer and spokesperson for the PTI, requested the court to direct the ECP as well as the province’s caretaker government and governor not to interfere in the process for next polls.
He said the court should declare that the “enforcement of fundamental rights of citizens should be ensured and for the true spirit of democracy the citizens may be allowed to freely choose their representatives through election process, which was conducted honestly, fairly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices were guarded against.”
Mr Butt said it would be fair and lawful for the holding of fair elections that the entire electoral process in the province should be performed under the watch and supervision of the judiciary and the process should be directed to be conducted through judicial officers in line with the mechanism provided in the Elections Act, 2017, and rules made under it.
He said that the ECP announced on Nov 3 that general elections for the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies would be held on Feb 8, 2024.
The petitioner contended that under Article 218 (3) of the Constitution, it was the duty of the ECP to make such arrangements as were necessary to ensure that the elections are conducted honestly, justly and in accordance with the law.
Mr Butt, who is also central leader of Insaf Lawyers Forum, claimed that the provincial caretaker government couldn’t be trusted for the “honest governance of the election process” as it was acting in consultation with a security agency in disregard to the principle laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Mohammad Asghar Khan versus Mirza Aslam Baig.
He pointed out that under the law, the ECP in consultation with the chief justice of the concerned high court could appoint returning officers and assistant returning officers, who may take all necessary acts for effective conduct of the polls.
The petitioner claimed that while the election process had already been initiated and other political parties were permitted to hold gatherings and demonstrations, the provincial government in every tehsil and district in the province had restrained the PTI leaders and workers from holding any party meeting.
He explained the background of the issue, including the appointment of the caretaker chief minister on Nov 12 by the governor after the death of the then incumbent, Mohammad Azam Khan, and said in disregard to the Constitution, former chief minister Mahmood Khan, who had now made his own party by the name of PTI-Parliamentarians, had been consulted on the matter.
RESPONSE SOUGHT: A high court bench consisting of Justice Ijaz Anwar and Justice Syed M Attique Shah has sought the response of the provincial chief secretary, inspector general of police and Mansehra deputy commissioner to a contempt petition of the PTI against denying permission for a workers’ convention in the district despite the court’s orders.
The petition was filed by PTI provincial president Ali Amin Gandapur and provincial legal coordinator Mashal Azam and Insaf Lawyers Forum provincial vice-president Malik Arshad Ahmad, who sought contempt proceedings against the chief secretary, Mansehra DC and district police officer, and other relevant officers.
The bench fixed Nov 21 for the next hearing asking respondents to file their respective replies to the petition by then.
Advocates Ali Zaman and Shah Faisal Uthmankhel appeared for the petitioners and said that a high court bench had disposed of on Oct 26 a plea of the petitioners allowing the PTI to carry out political activities in the province.
They said that the court had issued a detailed judgement directing the deputy commissioner to allow with ‘reasonable restrictions’ the PTI’s leadership and workers to conduct the workers convention and conduct election campaign.
The lawyers, however, said that the DC didn’t allow the PTI to hold a workers’ convention in Mansehra district on Nov 5.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2023