LHC suspends Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry's arrest warrants in ECP contempt case

Court orders election commission to continue proceedings within its jurisdiction

Shahid Hussain
PTI leaders Imran Khan and Fawad Chaudhry. — Twitter/@fawadchaudhry
PTI leaders Imran Khan and Fawad Chaudhry. — Twitter/@fawadchaudhry

  • LHC orders ECP to continue proceedings within its jurisdiction.
  • High court's three-member bench issues order.
  • ECP issued bailable arrest warrants last Tuesday.

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Monday suspended the bailable arrest warrants of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) top leaders — Imran Khan and Fawad Chaudhry — in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) contempt case.

LHC's three-member Rawalpindi bench — comprising Justice Chaudhry Abdul Aziz, Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, and Justice Mirza Waqas Rauf — issued the verdict on a petition filed against the ECP's decision.

The court ordered the election commission to continue the proceedings within its jurisdiction as the LHC would not interfere in the proceedings of the electoral body.

The court said that the decision of the election commission can be challenged by any of the parties. After the ECP's decision, the petitioners can approach the court, it added.

The election commission had last Tuesday issued bailable arrest warrants for the two PTI leaders in the case pertaining to "contemptuous" remarks against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

A four-member bench — comprising ECP members Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Mohammad Jatoi, Babar Hasan Bharwana, and Justice (retd) Ikram Ullah Khan — issued the order following the non-appearance of the leaders in the case proceedings.

“Consequently, in the circumstances of the case, we have left with no alternative except to issue a bailable warrant of arrest against respondent in the sum of Rs50,000/- (fifty thousand) with two sureties in the like amount each,” the verdict issued by the ECP read.

The case

Last year, the top electoral body initiated contempt proceedings against the PTI leaders for allegedly using foul language against the chief election commissioner. It has served several notices on them, asking them to appear in person and explain their point of view.

However, the PTI leaders did not appear before the ECP and later challenged its powers to initiate contempt proceedings under Section 10 of the Election Act 2017 in different high courts.

Section 10 of the election act states that the “election commission may exercise the same power as the high court to punish any person for contempt of court and the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 (V of 2003), or any other law pertaining to contempt of court shall have effect accordingly[…]”

Earlier this year, the ECP filed a petition with the Supreme Court, seeking consolidation of all six petitions before one high court. In its decision, the top court said the ECP had been allowed to continue proceedings under Section 10 against the PTI leaders, but it barred the electoral body from giving final orders.