PTI ‘bat’ symbol case: PHC reserves verdict on ECP plea

Electoral body had filed review petition at high court against its decision to restore PTI’s electoral symbol

Peshawar High Court (PHC). —
Peshawar High Court (PHC). —

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday reserved the verdict on the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) petition challenging its single-bench ruling on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) electoral ‘bat’ symbol and intra-party polls.

A single-member bench comprising Justice Ejaz Khan conducted a hearing on the matter. 

ECP’s lawyer Sikander Bashir Mohmand and PTI’s legal team comprising Advocates Shah Faisal Uthmankhel and Qazi Anwar appeared in the courtroom. 

The electoral body had filed a review petition at the high court against its December 26 decision which had suspended the ECP’s order and restored the party’s ‘bat’ symbol till a final decision on the matter.

The ECP, in its order, had declared PTI’s intra-party polls “illegal” and stripped it of using the ‘bat’ symbol. Following its order, the former ruling party approached the PHC seeking to restore its party symbol ahead of the general elections slated for February 8.

In its petition, the ECP then requested the court to review the PTI’s intra-party elections and its decision related to the election symbol.

A day earlier, the court heard the arguments of the ECP’s counsel and then adjourned the hearing till today (Wednesday). 

The hearing

At the outset of the hearing, Advocate Anwar said that he, along with Barrister Gohar Khan, will represent the PTI in this case.

“The political parties, in the court, said that they stand with the Election Commission,” said Anwar.

At this, Justice Khan said “we have learned from you that these things are baseless in the eyes of law as whatever happens outside the court has nothing to do with the hearing”.

“Can the ECP approach the court against the high court’s ruling?” questioned PTI’s lawyer calling the electoral body’s petition incorrect.

Advocate Anwar said that the PHC announced its verdict on December 26, however, it has not yet been implemented. “Election Commission has not yet issued the [PTI] intra-party election certificate on the website,” he added.

“Did your party file any contempt case in this matter?” asked Justice Khan.

Following this, the PTI’s counsel said that sidelining a party was not good for the ECP or the democracy.

He said that the PTI wants the ECP to conduct free and fair elections.

Advocate Anwar then inquired about the electoral body’s authority to challenge a high court order. 

Later, the ECP’s counsel told the court that the body was not removing any political party from the list but required the parties to follow its laws.

Mohmand said that the PTI did not conduct intra-party polls, hence, the party elections have been declared null and void. He requested the court to withdraw the PTI’s stay order. 

The court then reserved the verdict after hearing arguments from both sides. 

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