LHC forms full bench to hear pleas regarding Imran Khan’s disqualification

LAHORE:The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday formed a full bench for hearing of two different petitions regarding disqualification of former premier Imran Khan by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Toshakhana case.

LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti would head the bench, whereas Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi would be its members.

The single bench comprising Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi had referred the petitions to the LHC chief justice with a request to form a larger bench for their hearing. The court observed that the petitioners had raised important law points, which needed to be decided by a larger bench.

Advocate Muhammad Afaq had filed a petition against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan wherein the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), federal government and others were impleaded as respondents. He submitted that the ECP had disqualified Imran Khan in Toshakhana case and he had no legal standing to continue as the PTI chairman. He requested the court to issue directions for removing Imran Khan from the office of PTI chairman and order the party to appoint a new chairman.

Muhammad Jabir Abbas Khan, a voter of NA-95 constituency, had filed the other petition, saying that the ECP was an administrative body but not a court. He submitted that the commission disqualified the former premier Imran Khan under Section 137 (4) of the Election Act, 2017, with mala fide intention. He submitted that only a complaint could be filed if any offence was proved against the former premier, but the election watchdog exceeded its powers.

He submitted that the section was a violation of Article 10 of the Constitution, adding that it did not empower the commission to disqualify an elected member of the National Assembly. He submitted that a member could be disqualified under Article 62 and only the courts could disqualify him.

He pleaded with the court to declare Section 137(4) of the Election Act, 2017 as ultra-vires of the Constitution with further contention that the authorities concerned, especially the ECP, be restrained from taking any action or proceedings in this matter.