'Bat symbol': ECP challenges PHC verdict on PTI's intra-party polls in Supreme Court

PTI also files contempt plea against ECP in PHC for not complying with order

Daniyal Aziz
Maryam Nawaz
Nausheen Yusuf
A police officer walks past the ECPs office in Islamabad. — AFP/File
A police officer walks past the ECP's office in Islamabad. — AFP/File
  • ECP asks SC to declare PHC verdict illegal
  • PTI names CEC, ECP members as respondents in contempt plea. 
  • PHC had declared ECP decision on PTI intra-party polls illegal.

PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against the Peshawar High Court (PHC) verdict that annulled the electoral body’s decision to declare PTI’s intra-party polls “unconstitutional” and stripping the party of its iconic bat electoral symbol.

“The Peshawar High Court decision should be declared illegal. PTI did not hold intra-party elections as per the Election Act,” the ECP stated in its plea submitted to the top court.

The petition comes after sources told Geo News that ECP had held a meeting to review the PHC decision. The sources shared that the meeting had reviewed options whether to approach the Supreme Court or not against the PHC decision.

PTI files contempt plea against ECP in PHC

Minutes before the plea was filed in the apex court, the PTI filed a contempt of court petition against the ECP over its failure to comply with the order issued on the party’s petition against the electoral watchdog’s decision on its election symbol and intra-party polls.

In its petition, the PTI has contended that despite the PHC orders issued a day earlier the ECP failed to upload the certificate on the PTI's intra-party elections on its website. It added that failure to do so falls under contempt of court.

The party has named Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, ECP members and secretary as the respondents in the case.

Earlier today, PTI’s chief election commissioner Niazullah Niazi had submitted a certified copy of the PHC decision to the ECP in person.

The PHC verdict

A day earlier, a two-member bench of the PHC comprising Justice Ejaz Anwar and Justice Syed Arshad Ali announced a short order on a petition jointly filed by PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan and six other party leaders, requesting the court to declare the ECP order as illegal and without jurisdiction.

The order said the ECP decision of December 22, 2023 was “illegal, without any lawful authority and of no legal effect.”

The court directed the ECP to publish on its website the certificate filed by the PTI after holding intra-party polls.

“It is further held and declared that the PTI is entitled to the election symbol strictly in terms of Sections 215 and 217 read with any other enabling provision of the Election Act 2017 and Election Rules 2017,” the order said.

After the verdict, the ECP held a brief consultative meeting on the situation arising out of the restoration of the symbol of ‘bat’ for the PTI.

Sources in the commission told The News that certain legal and constitutional aspects of the matter were discussed during the meeting.

It is pertinent that time constraint is a real challenge, as the Returning Officers (ROs) are to allocate poll symbols to the contesting candidates on January 13, who were sent the list of symbols on Tuesday and the list did not contain over a dozen symbols, including “bat”.