The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday issued contempt notices to the top PTI leadership, including party chief Imran Khan, for levelling allegations at the electoral body and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja.
The electoral body directed the PTI chairman along with Fawad Chaudhry and Asad Umar to appear before it in person or submit their response through their lawyers on August 31.
The ECP spokesperson said in a statement that notices were issued to the PTI chief for using “insulting and unparliamentary remarks” against the electoral body in various speeches.
The development is the latest sign that Imran’s legal controversies with the top electoral supervisory body — that also clouded his office during his term as a prime minister — are entering a protracted chapter, especially as references eyeing his disqualification pile up on the ECP’s desk.
With Imran weighing a comeback bid for the prime minister’s office, Imran is wanted in a number of hearings over pleas that present potentially most acute legal threat of all.
In its notice on Friday, the ECP explained that the notices were issued after reviewing the speeches delivered by the PTI leaders which were provided by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) at the electoral body’s request.
The ECP has sought clarification from the PTI leaders on allegations hurled against it.
The notices said Imran Khan used “insulting and indecent language” against the CEC in his rallies on July 12, 18, 21 & 27, and August 4 & 8. “He instigated the public against the CEC by using contemptuous language which was an attempt to prejudice the process of forthcoming election which constitute a clear contempt of the commission,” the notices read.
Copies of the statement were also attached with the notices.
In one of the addresses referred to by the ECP in its notice, Imran Khan accused the top electoral supervisory body of employing everything at its disposal to defeat the PTI in the recent Punjab by-polls.
“I want to first thank our PTI workers and voters of Punjab for defeating not just PML-N candidates but the entire state machinery, especially harassment by police and a totally biased ECP,” Imran was quoted as alleging in the notice.
Similarly, in its notice to Fawad Chaudhry, the ECP also great exception to the PTI leader’s press conference on May 11 wherein he had asked the CEC to join the PML-N instead of running the affairs of an institution as important as election commission.
The former prime minister has time and again accused the ECP and its chief of being biased and demanded that CEC Raja steps down.
Imran also accused the ECP chief of siding with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz against the PTI.
Last month, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf decided to file a ‘judicial reference’ against CEC Raja and other members of the Election Commission of Pakistan for allegedly violating the code of conduct.
Former premier Imran had formally directed his legal team to initiate the process of filing the reference against the CEC and ECP members for meeting a delegation of the ruling alliance and discussing the prohibited funding case against PTI with them.