News Analysis |
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday, 23rd July, rejected an appeal filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Supremo Imran Khan against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) ban on party chiefs and lawmakers to conduct rallies or campaign in their respective constituencies or others, after the by-elections schedule are announced by the ECP.
In 2015, the ECP had refrained the president, prime minister, chief ministers, state ministers, governors, and advisers from visiting any given constituency or speaking to the public there, after the by-election schedules had been announced. Later that year, members of National and provincial assemblies were also barred from the same.
Justice Aamer Farooq, however, released the final order today, 23rd July, rejecting Imran Khan’s appeal and allowing the ECP to carry forward its proceedings against him.
The ECP’s orders were ignored by PTI’s Chairman as he campaigned in Lodhran, Sahiwal, and Lahore during the by-polls there. This disregarding of directives was deemed by the ECP as violations of its code of conduct and the election watchdog subsequently issued a notice to Imran Khan.
In 2017, Imran Khan challenged the ECP’s notification in the Islamabad High Court, saying that campaigning during by-polls is his political right safeguarded by the Article 16 of Constitution of Pakistan. He had requested the top court to rule the ECP’s notice as “illegal” and render it ineffective. The Islamabad High Court, after barring the Election Commission from proceeding with its case against the PTI Chief for several months, had reserved its judgment in April, earlier this year. Justice Aamer Farooq, however, released the final order today, 23rd July, rejecting Imran Khan’s appeal and allowing the ECP to carry forward its proceedings against him.
During the hearing, Sanaullah Zahid, the counsel for the ECP, had argued that the commission had issued similar notices to a number of politicians for violating its code of conduct. With the exception of the PTI chief, the ECP counsel said, all the politicians had submitted unconditional apologies, which had been accepted by the ECP. The ECP’s counsel went on to say that Mr. Imran Khan not only violated the code of conduct but had also restrained from responding to the notice.