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ECP gave last chance to PTI for submitting financial records

17 August, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Rejecting an appeal by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to halt proceedings of foreign funding case, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday granted ‘last chance’ to the party to submit complete financial records by September 7.

Anwar Mansoor, counsel for the PTI, submitted reply before the five-member tribunal of the ECP, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Sardar Raza Khan, which has been hearing a petition filed by Akbar S Babar seeking disqualification of Imran Khan for allegedly receiving and concealing prohibited foreign funding.

When petitioner’s counsel, Ahmed Hassan, pointed out that the details sought by the ECP were missing from the reply, Anwar Mansoor stated that the relevant documents had already been filed with the Supreme Court, adding that the ECP was a party to the case being heard by the Supreme Court.

He told the ECP tribunal that the apex court had not asked for the party’s entire funding history. “Perhaps there is an element of prejudice in some corner of the ECP,” he contended.

Dismissing his contentions, the ECP said that seeking details did not mean that prejudice existed. “As a party to the case in the SC, the ECP should not proceed with hearings on this case,”Anwar Mansoor maintained. The CEC told the lawyer that it would have been better if he had approached the Supreme Court with a request to halt the ECP proceedings.

The petitioner’s lawyer, however, argued that the nature of the case being heard by the apex court was different from that of the ECP. He said if PTI would have submitted the details of funds it received, it would have become clear whether those were received from prohibited sources or not. He asked the ECP not to accept PTI’s request, contending that it was an attempt to avoid furnishing the financial details. He said the ECP had directed the PTI for 21 times to submit the details, but of no avail.

After hearing the counsels for the petitioner and the respondent, the ECP reserved its verdict, which was announced after a short while.

The petition seeks PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s disqualification on the charges of collecting foreign funds from ‘prohibited’ sources. It says the reply submitted by the PTI does not contain any details of the party’s funds.

In May 2017, the ECP had given the PTI another chance to produce its financial records in the foreign funding case, despite issuing the same directives twice before.

On Dec 1 last year, the ECP had also ordered the PTI to submit its accounts or face ‘legal consequences’. Instead of complying with the orders, the party had accused the ECP of ‘political bias’ which led to a contempt application against Imran Khan filed by petitioner Akbar S Babar.

The case was filed on Nov 14, 2014 by Akbar S Babar, a founding leader of PTI, after he developed differences with the PTI chief over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing the political funding.

The petitioner alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Imran Khan’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi’ channels from the Middle East to the accounts of PTI employees. He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

In April 2015, after scrutinising PTI’s annual audit reports, the ECP had ruled that the party had failed to disclose the sources and details of foreign funds received. But instead of submitting the accounts, the PTI had challenged the ECP’s jurisdiction to scrutinise its accounts. Last month, the Islamabad High Court rejected PTI’s plea seeking to restrain the ECP from hearing the foreign funding case.

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