LHC takes up plea seeking Imran’s removal as PTI chairman today

Petition says Imran can't head PTI after being disqualified in Toshakhana reference

The Lahore High Court (LHC) will take up today (Thursday) a petition seeking directives for the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Federal Ministry of Law for the removal of Imran Khan as the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after his disqualification in the Toshakhana reference.

LHC single bench led by Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi will hear the petition moved by Afaaq Ahmed, a local lawyer.

The development comes at a time when the PTI chief is leading what he says the “real freedom march” towards Islamabad, with an open demand for early elections.

Earlier this week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) barred the ECP from holding a by-election on NA-95 (Mianwali), which had fallen vacant after Imran’s disqualification.

The court had issued the directive while hearing Imran’s plea against the ECP verdict.

The petition has made the chief election commissioner, Punjab chief election commissioner, Federal Ministry of Law and the PTI Punjab office and Imran as respondents.

It argued that according to the Representation of the People Act, 1976 and Political Parties Order (PPO), 2002 it was a legal and constitutional requirement for party officeholders to be qualified in accordance with articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.

After being disqualified by the ECP, the lawyer contended that Imran Khan be removed from the office of the chairmanship of the party as he did not meet the merit.

He contended that a disqualified person could not hold the top office of any political party and he also could not be a member of the legislative assembly under the law. The petitioner submitted that it would be complete justice if Imran, after being disqualified, is removed from the top office of the party.

In October, the ECP disqualified Imran in the Toshakhana Reference, ruling that the former premier had made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts he had received.

Imran also sought a court declaration, stating that the ECP lacked the jurisdiction to decide “any questions of ‘corrupt practices and disqualification'” under the Election Act and Election Rules, 2017.

The Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.

Fida Hussnain is a correspondent covering judiciary, politics, business and health issues. He is also a feature writer and researcher with major work on freedom of press in Pakistan. He tweets @fidahassanain and can be reached at fidahassanain@gmail.com.

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