IHC advices PTI to open its accounts to public scrutiny

IHC advices PTI to open its accounts to public scrutiny

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Thursday advised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) not to shy away from accountability and open its accounts to public scrutiny.

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, which had taken up an appeal filed by the PTI against the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the party’s foreign funding case, observed: “Political parties should be open and transparent.”

Justice Minallah said the affairs of all political parties should be clean and transparent, wondering why the PTI was afraid of accountability if its affairs were transparent in connection with the foreign funding issue.

Imran Khan challenges ECP’s decision to scrutinise his party’s foreign funding

“How is it prejudicial to any political party if any citizen seeks scrutiny of funds? If prejudice is caused then it is fine but otherwise it should be welcomed,” the judge said, adding that the PTI trusted the ECP in other matters, except for the decision in the foreign funding case.

PTI chairman Imran Khan, through his counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan Kamal, had challenged the ECP decision to constitute a committee for the scrutiny of PTI’s accounts in the foreign funding case. He argued that the ECP was neither a court nor a tribunal, but a constitutional and supervisory body.

Mr Khan said his party was ready to go for scrutiny, but the ECP was listening to only one petitioner — Akber S. Babar, a founding member of the PTI — and not allowing the party to say anything in the scrutiny process.

The counsel said the committee was not calling the PTI at all and allegedly doing scrutiny with Mr Babar. He argued that the ECP could not declare Mr Babar a member of the party and that was why he was present before the IHC. In addition, he said, information might be obtained but “harassment” could not be allowed.

“How is it harassment if a person points out something?” Justice Minallah asked. He said things could either be correct or incorrect and added that the ECP being a regulator took decisions and political parties should be open to such applications.

Justice Minallah remarked that by removing one person [Babar] from the process, “we would be setting a very bad example”. Also, he said, “I fail to understand why a political party is resisting. If he is declared not a member of a political party yet he is a citizen. It [scrutiny] should be encouraged. That’s accountability.”

He said the PTI could always challenge the committee’s report.

Subsequently, the court issued notices to Mr Babar and the ECP and adjourned the hearing for a date to be fixed by the registrar office.

In its petition, the PTI had referred to an IHC order issued on Sept 7 last year and said the court had ruled that “Election Commission of Pakistan shall not share the details of source of foreign funding of PTI with any other individuals, including respondent No 2 [Akbar] till final decision of this petition”.

In addition, it said, Mr Akbar did not come with clean hand because he approached the ECP after his expulsion from the party and “[Akbar] is not free from malice, ill will and just aimed to harass the petitioner”.

The petitioner argued that the impugned order was based on mala fide intension and was not passed in a transparent manner. It said Mr Khan had in compliance with the IHC order submitted all documents to the ECP.

The petitioner requested the court to set aside the ECP’s March 12 order and declare the committee proceedings void, unlawful and without lawful authority against the Constitution and law on the subject in the interest of justice.