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Imran’s counsel wants NA speaker to defend reference before ECP

ISLAMABAD: Advocate Naeem Bukhari on Tuesday argued before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that National Assem­bly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq should himself defend the disqualification reference against Pakistan Tehre­ek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan before the commission.

Appearing before a full bench of the ECP as the counsel for Imran Khan, Mr Bukhari contended that those complaining to the speaker could not defend the reference sent by him. The reference was sent by the speaker and members of the National Assembly had nothing to do with it, he added.

He said the matter of Banigala land involved an issue between Imran Khan and his former wife Jemima Khan as the latter had gifted the land to her husband. He said the land transaction was between husband and wife and added that Jemima Khan was divorced later. “Had she still been Imran Khan’s wife, she would have been owner of the property.”

Mr Bukhari alleged that the speaker had shown bias by forwarding a reference against Mr Khan and rejecting the one the PTI had filed against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

He argued that the eligibility of a lawmaker could be challenged before the ECP only on the basis of some post-election actions. Pre-election matters can be challenged before the returning officer at the time of submission of nomination papers.

Mr Bukhari said the ECP had no jurisdiction to act against someone after polls on the basis of pre-election matters. He said Banigala land was purchased in 2003 and the matter had not been raised at the time of 2013 polls. He said the reference was not maintainable.

He said the speaker even did not know which sub-section of Article 63 would be applicable and added that the reference did not mention violation of any clause. He said disqualification of a lawmaker could not be sou­ght over a matter bet­ween a husband and his spouse.

To advance his argument of bias when he recalled that the NA speaker was a candidate against Imran Khan and had been de-seated on Mr Khan’s application, Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza observed that contesting elections did not mean bias. “Every speaker comes after contesting polls against someone.”

Akram Sheikh, the counsel for Talal Chaudhry, however responded that the speaker had forwarded the reference under the law. He said Imran Khan had not mentioned his offshore company in his nomination papers and the Niazi Servi­ces was operational till 2015.

He said Imran Khan purchased an apartment in the Grand Hyatt building in 2014 but did not mention it in his statement of assets. This property was shown in the assets in 2015.

He said the matter of concealment of assets could be raised after elections as well.

On this the CEC said the speaker had to forward a reference to the ECP after satisfying himself over facts. “How can the decision on a question arising or not arising be taken,” he asked.

The CEC said the question was which evidence formed basis for the speaker’s decision to send the reference to the ECP.

courtesy : dawn news



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