IHC suspends order directing ECP to decide PTI foreign funding case in 30 days

IHC suspends order directing ECP to decide PTI foreign funding case in 30 days

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended its earlier order in which the court had directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conclude the foreign funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) within 30 days.

Earlier, a single bench of the IHC comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had directed the ECP to decide the case in a month.

In  today's hearing, a two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and including Justice Babar Sattar suspended the court's previous order.

The bench combined the PTI petition against ECP's alleged bias with the intra-court appeal and issued notices to the parties, seeking replies on May 17.

The PTI has sought a judicial order for the ECP to conclude similar cases against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and other political parties in the same period of time, maintaining that the commission targeted only PTI.

The PTI also demanded the court direct the ECP to scrutinise other political parties’ accounts through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and publicise the account details after the scrutiny report.

The PTI nominated ECP and 17 political parties, including PML-N, PPP, MQM-P, JUI-F, AML, TLP, BAP, BNP and ANP as respondents in the case.

Suspending the single-bench order, IHC has sought reply from ECP and 17 political parties by May 17.

It also issued notices to ECP and Akbar S Babar in PTI’s intra-court appeal.

On April 14, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of IHC had ordered conclusion of foreign funding case of the PTI within 30 days, ruling that the ECP’s role “is of important nature and same cannot be curtailed in any manner”.

It noted that the body is a “supervisory, regulatory and administrative body under the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 to deal with the affairs of political parties, election and its results”.

It also noted that “no restriction could be imposed upon ECP to adopt any process of inquiry, investigation, scrutiny to reach out the mandate of assigned duty in terms of Article 17(3)”.

It is pertinent to mention that the foreign funding case is pending since November 14, 2014. The case was filed by Akbar S Babar who had alleged serious financial irregularities in the PTI’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.

On January 4 this year, the ECP’s scrutiny committee, formed in March 2018 to examine the PTI’s foreign funding in one month, finally submitted its report after 95 hearings and nearly four years.

The report, based on eight volumes of record requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), proved that the PTI leadership had committed gross violations of funding laws by allowing the collection of millions of dollars and billions of rupees without any source and details from foreigners, including Indian nationals and foreign companies.

Later in March, a delegation of the joint opposition comprising representatives from the PML-N, PPP, JUI-F, ANP and BNP called on Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and submitted a letter demanding early conclusion of the case.