The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday filed a review petition at the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against its single bench ruling on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) iconic electoral ‘bat’ symbol.
On December 26, the high court announced the verdict on PTI’s petition challenging the ECP’s verdict, which had declared the party’s intra-party polls “illegal” and stripped it of using the ‘bat’ symbol.
While announcing a reserved verdict, the PHC suspended the ECP’s order and restored the party’s ‘bat’ symbol till a final decision on the petition. The court also stated that a double bench will hear the matter after winter vacations.
In its petition, the ECP has requested the court to review the PTI’s intra-party elections and its decision related to the election symbol.
The Election Commission, in its petition, requested the court to fix the plea before a division bench in the larger interest of the public. It said that the ECP is charged with the duty to conduct elections honestly, justly fairly and in accordance with law.
The petition read that Article 218(3) allows the electoral body to organise and conduct the elections, adding that the ECP is also responsible for making all necessary arrangements ahead of the polls.
“This court […] observed that election is a process which starts with the issuance of the election programme and consists of the various links and stages in that behalf as, filing of nomination papers, their scrutiny, the hearing of objections and the holding of actual polls. If any of these links is challenged it really (is) tantamount to challenging the said process of election,” it said.
“This case implies that where a violation of the standards mentioned in Article 218(3) has not as yet taken place, the Election Commission is legally empowered under Article 218(3) to exercise its powers pre-emptively in order to avoid a violation of these standards,” said the petition.
The plea said that the petitioners have sought “interim relief” for the suspension of ECP’s order as well as for the publication of an intra-party certificate on its website along with the restoration of the ‘bat’ symbol.
“That this Hon’ble Court under the settled law cannot grant Final Relief as an interim relief, hence the interim relief so granted vide order dated 26th December 2023 is against the law as well as against the dictum laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in its Judgment reported as 1997 SCMR 1508,” it added.
The ECP prayed the court to recall the “interim relief” granted by the single bench on December 26.