In Toshakhana ruling, ECP claims it can rule on disqualification

ISLAMABAD: In accordance with the constitution, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has said that it has the jurisdiction to accept references for disqualification of parliamentarians sent by the speaker of an assembly.

The panel expressed its findings in the complete judgment — acquired by Geo News on Saturday — on the disqualification of PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana matter.

On Friday, a five-member panel of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified Khan for submitting a fake affidavit and engaging in corrupt activities in violation of Article 63(1). (p).

However, Khan has petitioned the Islamabad High Court to overturn the commission’s decision, arguing that the ECP lacked jurisdiction over the subject.

In its comprehensive ruling, the ECP stated: “The Commission has the authority to accept the Speaker’s reference under Article 63(2) of the Constitution and rule on it under Article 63(3), and the question of disqualification can be presented at any time.”

In accordance with Article 63(1)(p) and Article 63(2), the commission has the authority to hear the National Assembly speaker’s reference about the disqualification of parliamentarians, according to the ruling.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) stated, citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Muhammad Salman v. Naveed Anjum, that it has the authority to resolve disqualification cases and, if it so chooses, to disqualify a legislator.

The commission noted Khan’s admission that he retained five gift items after paying a total of Rs11,684,250 (eleven million, six hundred eighty-four thousand, two hundred fifty) and that the complete cost amount was recorded against valuable goods in the statement of assets and liabilities for 2020-21.

In the Tax Returns for the year 2020-21, the identical declaration was made. However, according to the ECP, Khan listed them under the category of personal use when he should have included them under the category of movable assets.

The ECP stated, “No specifics of the gift goods about particulars of things have been given in column 3 of Form-B the respondent was expected to report these products under several categories clearly outlined in Form-B under the main category of movable assets.”

“Deliberately withheld” information

After hearing arguments from both sides and reviewing the evidence, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) concluded that Khan “deliberately concealed” facts by not disclosing the details of gifts in his assets and liabilities statement for the year 2018-19 and by failing to account for the sale proceeds.

In addition, he has not submitted the specifics of the gifts as required in column 3 of Form B, the ECP stated, and the former prime minister has also omitted to attach the details of the cash and bank account from the sale profits.

“The sum purportedly deposited into his bank account does not correspond to the estimated worth of the gifts. “Therefore, the respondent has made materially misleading statements and declarations for the fiscal year 2018-19.”

The court noted that the respondent made evasive and unclear claims in his written response, indicating that the gifts he purchased during the fiscal year 2019-20 were provided to others by him or on his behalf.

 

“However, the applicable column j(i) of FormB is listed as N/A, and there is no explanation in column 3’s notes,” the commission added.

According to the ECP, it has been shown that he intentionally hid important facts and made a fraudulent disclosure of his assets and obligations, including information that have severe penalties under the Constitution and the law.

According to the ECP,  Khan “intentionally and deliberately violated” the terms of Sections 137, 167, and 173 of the Elections Act of 2017, and made false representations and erroneous declarations in his statement of assets and liabilities for the year 2020-21.

“Therefore, is disqualified according to Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution read in conjunction with Sections 137 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017,” the ruling stated.

“We are of the considered opinion that the respondent [Khan] has become disqualified pursuant to Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution read with Sections 137, 167, and 173 of the Elections Act,2017. Accordingly, he ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, and his seat has become vacant.”

The ECP stated that the PTI chief had also engaged in corrupt activities in violation of Sections 167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, which are punishable under Section 174. v