The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday asked the high courts to quickly decide the petitions filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership against the contempt notices issued to them by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). 

The ECP, on October 25, had filed a petition urging the apex court to lift the stay order issued by the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the electoral body’s contempt notices to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other leaders.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and including Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Ayesha Malik heard the case.

During the hearing, the ECP requested the apex court to consolidate all the cases filed against the electoral body in the high courts of Lahore, Sindh and Islamabad.

“The high courts should quickly give a verdict on the PTI’s petitions against the ECP’s contempt notices,” said the court. 

According to the ECP, the LHC has stopped the electoral body to issues notices against the PTI leadership. 

“The order against the PTI leadership will be issued once the election commission completes its proceedings,” it added.

The court also stated that the LHC has not stopped the electoral body to carry out proceedings. “It has only refrained from giving a final decision,” added the apex court. 

During the hearing, ECP’s director-general of law stated that there are cases against the commission in three high courts. The DG requested the court to consolidate the pleas filed by the PTI against the election commission. 

At this, PTI’s lawyer Anwar Munawar said that the cases cannot be combined just for the convenience of the parties. 

“Election Commission of Pakistan is a constitutional body how can a stay order be issued on its action?” asked Justice Minallah. 

To this, lawyer Munawar said that no stay order has been issued on the election commission’s proceedings. He added that the PTI leaders have submitted their answers. 

CJP Bandial asked whether the cases in different high courts can be consolidated. 

The ECP’s lawyer, during the hearing, noted that the LHC has stopped from disciplinary action against the suspects. 

At this, Justice Malik said that disciplinary action will be taken once the proceedings of contempt of court are completed. 

The lawyer stated that Election Act’s Section 10 allows the body to carry contempt proceedings, adding that the PTI chief, Secretary-General Asad Umar, and senior leader Fawad Chaudhry are not appearing before the ECP.

At this, Justice Malik said that no high court has stopped the election commission from carrying out the proceedings. “The election commission itself stopped the contempt proceedings after October,” she added. 

At this, the ECP’s lawyer said that the electoral body has been stopped by the orders of the high court.

Justice Malik asked how the proceedings have been carried out. 

Justice Minallah said that an institution has been made dysfunctional by an apparent court order.

“Election commission has authority to take action as per the law,” said the chief justice. 

At this, the ECP’s lawyer asked the court to order the PTI leaders to appear before the commission. Justice Malik said that the order would be premature, adding that the request to merge the cases would also be premature. 

The lawyer asked the court to order the high courts to quickly decide on the petitions filed against the election commission. 

The election commission asked the court to grant it time until it finishes reading court orders. 

Then, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on the contempt of court. 

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