ECP reserves verdict on PTI intra-party poll irregularities petition


ECP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has refrained from delivering a verdict on the plea filed by Akbar S Babar, a founding member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), challenging the legitimacy of the party’s recent intra-party polls, which he deemed as “fraudulent.”

Following the intra-party polls conducted by PTI, Babar, along with a group of party members, lodged a petition asserting that the elections were marred by irregularities, urging the country’s top electoral authority to mandate a fresh round of polls.

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The election held on December 2 saw Barrister Gohar Khan assuming the role of the party’s chairman, marking the first time Imran Khan was replaced as PTI chief. Despite this outcome, Babar contested the election results, rejecting their validity and subsequently approaching the electoral authority to address the alleged irregularities.

Babar, a seasoned politician and one of the party’s founding leaders, emphasised his continued affiliation with PTI, citing a prior high court decision that validated his membership. Seeking intervention from the ECP, he highlighted his status as a party member whose credentials were validated by the electoral body.

A five-member commission, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, oversaw the hearing on the petition filed by 14 PTI members who expressed concerns about the intra-party polls.

At the commencement of the hearing, Barrister Ali Zafar, representing PTI, presented arguments asserting that the ECP had mandated the polls within a 20-day timeframe. Zafar contended that the elected chairman holds office for five years, while the panel serves a three-year term.

He argued that uncontested elections are not illegal, and the absence of specific procedures for intra-party polls in the Constitution, Election Act, and Election Rules leaves the matter to the discretion of the party.

Zafar emphasised that the PTI’s constitution does not explicitly outline the procedure for conducting intra-party polls, maintaining that it is a prerogative of the party to choose between an ad hoc approach and rule-making. Additionally, he asserted that the ECP does not function as a regulator in intra-party polls.

Throughout the hearing, ECP members acknowledged the submission of the intra-party election certificate by the PTI, leaving the final decision on Babar’s plea pending.

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