Monday, April 25, 2022
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended the order to conclude the PTI foreign funding case within 30 days.
A single bench had directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to wrap up the case in a month, over applications filed by the PTI asking for Akbar S Babar’s separation from the case, the dismissal of the case, and keeping the PTI documents secret.
Today's directive was issued by IHC's division bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Babar Sattar, in response to PTI's intra-court appeal challenging a single bench's 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 PML-N, PPP and other political parties in the same period of time, maintaining that the commission targeted only PTI.
It also demanded the court direct the ECP to scrutinise other political parties’ accounts through the State Bank of Pakistan and publicise the account details after the scrutiny report.
The PTI has 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.
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)”.
The ruling PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from the ECP, the report of an ECP scrutiny committee probing the party's funds had revealed on January 4.
The report stated that the PTI provided "false information" regarding the party's funding to the ECP. It said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP's) bank statement revealed that the party had received Rs1.64 billion in funding.
According to the report, the party did not disclose funding worth more than Rs310 million to the ECP.
The scrutiny committee was formed in 2019 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI. The case began in 2014 when the party's founding member, Akbar S Babar, filed it.