The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday decided that contempt case proceedings against former PTI Chief Imran Khan and ex-party leader Fawad Chaudhry will take place on Dec 13 at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, where both politicians are currently incarcerated.
The ECP issued its verdict in light of the interior ministry’s denial to produce the former premier before the commission during the last hearing, citing security concerns.
Subsequently on Nov 30, the ECP reserved a verdict and suggested the possibility of holding Imran’s trial in Rawalpindi jail.
Last year, the ECP had initiated contempt proceedings against the former PTI chief, former party leader Asad Umar and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry for allegedly using “intemperate” language against the chief election commissioner and the electoral watchdog.
However, instead of appearing before the ECP, the three had challenged the ECP notices and contempt proceedings in various high courts arguing that Section 10 of the Elections Act 2017, which is the statutory provision regarding the commission’s power to punish for contempt, was against the Constitution. The PTI leaders had also sought from the high courts a declaratory relief from the charges.
But in January, the Supreme Court allowed the ECP to continue proceedings against Imran, Chaudhry and Umar, and on June 21, the ECP decided to frame charges against the trio, which has yet to be done.
Chaudhry was arrested from Islamabad on Nov 4 in an unrelated case and has been in custody ever since.
In the latest development, the ECP declared that it will conduct indictment proceedings against the former premier and the ex-information minister in jail and asked the Ministry of Interior to make necessary arrangements in this regard.
It also directed the ministry to complete all necessary legal requirements for the proceedings within two days.
In the last hearing, ECP member from Sindh Nasir Durrani had told Imran’s counsel Shoaib Shaheen that the interior ministry had submitted a report that said that Imran could not be presented and proposed that the commission send a team to jail to indict him.
Imran’s lawyer had also expressed concern, stating that the jail trial of a leader of a top political party would send a wrong message.
Asad Umar had also made an appearance before the ECP in the same case in the last hearing. The electoral watchdog had questioned Umar about his repeated failure to appear before the commission.
“I have appeared before the ECP the most,” Umar had responded, adding that he had also quit politics. In response, one of the ECP members stated, “You can continue politics.” Umar had also submitted his written response to the ECP.