Pakistan’s election commission has disqualified ex-PM Imran Khan from holding public office for incorrectly declaring details of presents from foreign dignitaries and proceeds from their alleged sale.
The gifts included Rolex watches, a ring and a pair of cuff links.
Soon after the announcement of the verdict, Imran Khan called on his supporters to come out and protest the decision on Friday, saying that fundamental rights and democracy had been buried in Pakistan.
The verdict against the PTI chief comes as a big blow to the party which a few days ago won big in by-polls across the country, following up on its resounding victory in the July by-elections in Punjab — both seen as indicators of public support for the ousted former premier.
The written ruling, according to English newspaper, Daily Dawn, says that the respondent had “intentionally and deliberately” violated the provisions contained [in] sections 137, 167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, as he “has made false statement (sic) and incorrect declaration before the Commission in the statement of assets and liabilities filed by him for the year 2020-21”.
Hence, he attracts disqualification under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution read with sections 137 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, it added.
The ECP ruling follows up by saying based on the abovementioned findings, facts available on record and keeping in view the argument of learned counsel for parties herein, “we are of the considered opinion that the respondent has become disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution read with Section 137,167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, consequently he ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and his seat has become vacant accordingly”.
The ruling said as the respondent “has made false statements and incorrect declaration”, therefore he has also committed the “offence of corrupt practices” defined under sections 167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, punishable under Section 174 of the Elections Act, 2017.
“The office is directed to initiate legal proceedings and to take follow-up action under Section 190(2) of the Elections Act, 2017,” the verdict added.
Article 63 (1) (p) of the Constitution states that an individual is, “for the time being, disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) or of a provincial assembly under any law for the time being in force”.
After the ECP’s verdict, Imran could also cease to be the PTI chairman as per an earlier judgement by the apex court.
In February 2018, the Supreme Court had ruled that an individual disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution could not serve as head of a political party.
The apex court’s verdict was in response to petitions challenging the Elections Act 2017, which had been bulldozed through parliament to pave the way for Nawaz Sharif’s return to the PML-N’s helm as party president after he had been deemed unfit to hold public office in the Panama Papers judgement for not being ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’ in discharging his obligations as a lawmaker — both necessary conditions to hold public office under Article 62(1)(f).
“ … it is declared that any person who suffers from lack of qualification under Article 62 or disqualification under Article 63 of the Constitution is debarred from holding the position of ‘party head’ by whatever name called and prohibited from exercising any of the powers provided in Article 63-A of the Constitution, as ‘party head’ or any other power in the said capacity under any law, rule, regulation, statute, instrument or document of any political party,“ the judgement issued by the court read.
Home Corruption Pakistan: Former premier Imran Khan barred from holding public office