January 4, 2024
ISLAMABAD – The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday indicted ex-premier Imran Khan and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry in a case pertaining to contempt of the electoral body and the chief election commissioner (CEC), according to family and lawyers.
The case was heard in-camera by a four-member bench of headed by Nisar Ahmed Durrani in Adiala Jail, where the former PTI leaders are currently incarcerated. Further hearing of the case was adjourned till January 16.
PTI lawyer Intazar Hussain Panjutha said Imran was indicted in the absence of his lawyers. “No one has seen such a controversial election commission in the history of Pakistan,” he said.
Talking to the media outside Adiala Jail, Hiba Fawad Chaudhary, the former information minister’s wife, said both Fawad and Imran had been indicted by the ECP.
Quoting her husband, she said he argued before the ECP that there was a reference against one of the members of the bench hearing the case.
She also said that Fawad was indicted despite not having submitted his reply to a show-cause notice issued to him by the commission. She requested the ECP to allow her husband to respond to the show-cause notice before conducting further proceedings.
The ECP had on Dec 6 decided to conduct Imran and Fawad’s jail trial in light of the interior ministry’s denial to produce the former premier before the commission, citing security concerns.
In October 2022, the ECP had initiated contempt proceedings against the PTI chief, former party leader Asad Umar and Fawad for allegedly using “intemperate” language against the chief election commissioner and the electoral watchdog.
However, instead of appearing before the ECP, the three had challenged the ECP notices and contempt proceedings in various high courts arguing that Section 10 of the Elections Act 2017, which is the statutory provision regarding the commission’s power to punish for contempt, was against the Constitution. The PTI leaders had also sought from the high courts a declaratory relief from the charges.
But in January 2023, the Supreme Court had allowed the ECP to continue proceedings against Imran, Chaudhry and Umar, and on June 21, the ECP decided to frame charges against the trio.
Imran remains incarcerated in Adiala Jail in other cases despite getting bail in the cipher case last month. Meanwhile, Fawad was arrested from Islamabad on Nov 4 in a corruption case and has been in custody since.