ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders received a clear warning from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday that if they fail to appear at a subsequent contempt hearing, they could face ex parte proceedings.
The ECP is currently hearing the case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Secretary General Asad Umar, and Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry.
The electoral body’s bailable arrest warrants for the three leaders were also suspended by the Lahore High Court on Monday.
“Where are Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Fawad Chaudhary?” the Balochistan ECP member inquired. on Tuesday, when the hearing began.
At this point, Advocate Faisal Chaudhry’s assistant informed the ECP panel that the PTI leaders and their attorneys were unable to attend the hearing because they had to go to Peshawar to attend the funeral of former SCBA president Latif Afridi.
The electoral body member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stated that their arrest warrants had been suspended by the high court, but that they were still required to attend the proceedings and had not requested an exemption.
According to Nisar Durrani, a member of the ECP in Sindh, the ECP will hold ex parte proceedings and announce the verdict if the PTI leaders fail to attend the subsequent hearing.
The ECP panel postponed the hearing until January 24.
In August of last year, the ECP issued the PTI leaders a notice of contempt for insulting the commission and its head during public meetings, interviews, and press conferences.
The LHC Rawalpindi Bench lifted the bailable arrest warrants for PTI leaders issued by the ECP on Monday, suspending the warrants.
Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan of the LHC suspended the warrants issued by the ECP’s four-member bench last week.
Despite suspending the warrants, the court ordered the ECP to continue its contempt proceedings against the PTI leaders.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry announced that he would challenge the warrants in the high court and plead contempt of court against ECP following the ECP’s decision last week.
During the consultation, the court made the observation that “PTI looks for alleviation from the legal executive but targets them in the media.” The court warns PTI against targeting the legal executive.
“It is dishonest for the media to target the judiciary.” If Fawad Chaudhry targets the courts once more in the media, the court was warned that contempt of court proceedings would be initiated.”
Justice Khan observed that Fawad attributed corruption to the judiciary during an interview with an international channel. He also informed the PTI leader’s lawyer that the court was granting him relief at the moment, but that he should caution his client not to criticize the courts.
“Enough is enough, the court will no longer show restraint,” Justice Khan said.