SC resumes hearing on ECP's plea against PHC verdict restoring PTI's 'bat symbol'

SC resumes hearing on ECP's plea against PHC verdict restoring PTI's 'bat symbol'

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday resumed hearing on Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) petition challenging the Peshawar High Court's (PHC) decision restoring Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) election symbol of 'bat'.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali is hearing the ECP’s appeal.

The proceedings are being broadcast live on the apex court’s website.

During the course of proceedings on Friday, the CJP said that the apex court will not take over the responsibilities of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The CJP observed that democracy was a fundamental right, which should be present in both a country and a political party.

“Every citizen has a fundamental right to vote for a political party of its choice and every political party member has the same right too,” the top judge remarked.

CJP Isa, however, said the SC was willing to hear the case on Saturday and Sunday as adjourning the hearing would mean the PHC order would have to be suspended.

The CJP inquired from the PTI’s lawyer regarding the document of appointment of members of its election commission for intra-party elections.

PTI’s lawyer Hamid Khan prayed the court to grant time till Monday for case preparation.

The court observed that it would have to suspend the high court decision if it adjourned the case till the said date. It was ready to hear the case even during the holidays as elections were getting closer, it added.

Hamid Khan requested the bench to adjourn the case till tomorrow as they received the court notice last day. It would be appropriate if the court first hear the point pertaining to the maintainability of the appeal.

The CJP observed that if a custom collector could file an appeal in the court then why the ECP, which was a constitutional institution, could not do so.

The CJP said that the ECP has two responsibilities, one to oversee the affairs of political parties and second to conduct elections transparently, he added.

Justice Isa said that a constitutional institution would use its powers under the Constitution. There was a difference between the institutions which were set up under the Constitution and law.

ECP’s lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan said that the decision of Peshawar High Court (PHC) regarding the election symbol could not be maintained as per law.

He said that the electoral body had the authority to allot the election symbols to the political parties.

The lawyer said that the people who had challenged the intra-party elections of PTI also had been named as respondents in the case.

The court adjourned further hearing of the case till Saturday (today) after the ECP’s lawyer concluded his arguments.

On January 10, the PHC restored the PTI’s “bat” symbol, declaring the ECP’s decision regarding the PTI’s intra-party election null and void.

A two-member PHC bench comprising Justice Ijaz Anwar and Justice Arshad Ali announced the verdict on PTI’s petition challenging the ECP’s decision declaring the intra-party election as null and void and revoking party’s electoral symbol “bat”.

On Thursday, the ECP approached the top court and field a petition for leave to appeal under Article 185(3) of the Constitution against the PHC short order.

More to follow…