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PHC suspends ECP’s decision and restores PTI’s symbol of ‘bat’

Monitoring Desk

ISLAMABAD: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision nullifying PTI’s intra-party polls and revoking its popular ‘bat’ symbol and restored the party’s electoral symbol.
The court also issued notices to all respondents in the case.
The PTI filed a petition in the PHC earlier today challenging the ECP’s decision. Party chairman Barrister Gohar Khan said he filed the petition in the high court after consulting the founding chief of the party and former premier Imran Khan in Adiala jail.
“After hearing the arguments from both sides, this Court reached to a conclusion that as elections are scheduled to be held on 08 February, 2024 and last date for allotment of election symbols is 13th January, 2024, so keeping in view the urgency, that a political party has been denuded of its symbol, meaning thereby that aspirants from the general public who were willing to vote for the petitioners’ party were divested of their right to vote as per their choice,” said the written order issued by PHC.
“The office is directed to give notices to all the respondents for 09.01.2024. In the meanwhile, the impugned order dated 22.12.2023 is suspended with further direction to the Election Commission to publish the certificate on its website and restore the election symbol of PTL This order will be operative till 09.01.2024.”
Imran is currently incarcerated in sentences and references pertaining to the £190 million case and the Toshakhana case. He was granted bail in the cypher case after the Supreme Court’s intervention last week.
The hearing was presided over by Justice Kamran Hayat Miankhel while the PTI chairman and the party’s lawyer Ali Zafar presented their arguments.
Barrister Zafar protested that the election commission had acted outside of its authority. “The election commission asked for intra-party elections within 20 days and we conducted the polls, but then the election commission invalidated the intra-party polls on December 22,” he argued.
He further informed the court that the PTI had conducted intra-party elections on December 2 which were covered by the media and had also provided all the documents to the electoral body.
“The election commission said that the intra-party polls were conducted properly, but raised an objection over the appointment of the person who conducted the polls,” he added.
He further elaborated that because of the ECP’s ruling, the PTI cannot contest in the upcoming general elections as a party.
The PTI’s counsel contended that the electoral body’s ruling violates Article 17. “Article 17 also states that every citizen has the right to create a party,” Barrister Zafar said.
“I have not read the decision. It has only been written that the appointment of the person conducting the election is wrong,” Justice Kamran Hayat said to the PTI’s lawyer.
“That is exactly what the election commission has written,” said Zafar.
The counsel reiterated that the electoral body does not have the authority to declare the intra-party election invalid and added that the “election symbol is a fundamental right that has been taken away from us”.
Justice Miankhel then asked the party’s counsel who was the petitioner in the case and “who has been mentioned in the decision of the election commission?”.
“The person who had filed the petition is not even a member of the PTI,” Barrister Zafar replied and added that the election commission had become a party to this case itself.
He further added that the ECP had nowhere stated that the procedure of the intra-party polls was not correct.