ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday issued bailable arrest warrants for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Imran Khan and Fawad Chaudhry, Geo News reported. The ECP has taken the decision in a case pertaining to "contemptuous" remarks against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.
A four-member bench comprising ECP members Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Mohammad Jatoi, Babar Hasan Bharwana, and Justice (retd) Ikram Ullah Khan issued the order as the leaders did not appear in the case proceedings, as per the news report.
"Consequently, in the circumstances of the case, we have left with no alternative except to issue a bailable warrant of arrest against respondent in the sum of Rs 50,000/- (fifty thousand) with two sureties in the like amount each," the verdict issued by the ECP reads as per Geo News report.
In the verdict, the ECP said that the bailable warrants shall be executed through the Inspector General of Police, Islamabad and ordered the office to take follow-up action forthwith and list the matter on March 14.
In its orders issued separately for former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, the ECP said that the respondents were directed to appear in person several times. However, the respondents failed to appear before the court, as per the Geo News report.
The election watchdog stated that the PTI chief deliberately sought adjournments on one or other pretext and was reluctant to appear before the bench which they stressed "amounts to a mockery of the law." As per the news report, the order reads, "Such conduct of respondent could not be tolerable, as his non-appearance before this Commission seems to be intentional."
Last week, the bench adjourned within a couple of minutes after former Pakistan PM Imran Khan and two other accused failed to appear at the commission in the case related to the contempt of ECP and Chief Election Commission Sikander Sultan Raja, Geo News reported.
Reacting to the ECP's order, Fawad Chaudhry said that the order violates the orders of the Lahore High Court. On January 6, the Lahore High Court suspended the ECP's arrest warrants for Khan, Fawad and the party's Secretary General Asad Umar in the case. Fawad Chaudhry tweeted, "The Election Commission's order is a violation of the orders of the Lahore High Court, the Election Commission will be summoned in the High Court for contempt of court."
Last year, ECP started contempt proceedings against the PTI leaders for allegedly using foul language against the chief election commissioner, as per the Geo News report. Pakistan's top electoral body also served several notices on them, asking them to appear in person. However, the PTI leaders did not appear before the ECP and later challenged its powers in different high courts.
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