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Saturday, May 25, 2024

PTI loses “BAT” as PHC restores ECP decision

The PTI intends to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

PTI loses “BAT” as PHC restores ECP decision

On Wednesday, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) reinstated the Election Commission of Pakistan’s December 22 directive, declaring the PTI’s intra-party polls as “unconstitutional” and revoking the party’s emblematic ‘bat’ electoral symbol. Justice Ejaz Khan, who had reserved the verdict earlier in the day, announced the decision on ECP’s review petitions. This ruling is a setback for the party, which claims it is not receiving a fair playing field ahead of the general election.

In the event a party fails to secure an election symbol through judicial intervention, its candidates must run as independents for national and provincial assembly seats. Consequently, they cannot join the PTI even if victorious, as they can only affiliate with a party officially registered with the ECP. This situation may compel them to join other parties without the risk of losing their seats under the defection clause. The PTI intends to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Review petition filled by ECP

On Saturday, the ECP filed a review petition in the PHC, contesting the suspension of its decision by the court. During the subsequent hearing, presided over by Justice Ejaz Khan, ECP counsel Sikandar Mohmand appeared before the court. The judge inquired about the applicability of high court directives nationwide, to which the lawyer confirmed that the Supreme Court had suspended a similar decision by the Lahore High Court regarding returning officers.

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The ECP counsel clarified that the interim relief and the final plea were identical. When asked about the petitioner’s whereabouts, the counsel expressed unawareness. Justice Khan mentioned that he couldn’t issue an order as the case was fixed before a division bench on January 9. The ECP lawyer requested the court to withdraw the PHC order, stating that arguments would be presented before the division bench. 

PTI to approach SC

Following the announcement, PTI’s Barrister Gohar Khan, speaking outside Adiala Jail, revealed consulting with party founder Imran Khan on party tickets. He criticized the PHC’s decision, stating it epitomized the ECP’s bias and suggested that removing the ‘bat’ raised concerns about the election’s legitimacy globally. Despite disagreeing with the ruling, he affirmed the party’s commitment to participating in the election, urging the Supreme Court to provide an alternative symbol if the ‘bat’ is not reinstated. Gohar expressed confidence that the SC would address the matter, pledging not to boycott the election under any circumstances.