The controversy stirred up by the recent leak of an unsigned copy of the Toshakhana case order disowned by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and an announcement of a ‘unanimous’ decision even before all bench members signed it took a new turn on Monday when the commission officially released the 36-page verdict.
Also on Monday, the ECP shared a notification, dated Oct 21, about de-notification of PTI chief Imran Khan as member of the National Assembly pursuant to his disqualification.
To the surprise of many, the officially released order was the same as the unsigned document that the ECP had disowned was, except for the addition of signatures of the CEC and the four members and the stamps to attest and certify it.
ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan had earlier said he could not authenticate the order doing rounds on social media, while its spokesman Haroon Shinwari disowned the detailed verdict run by some TV channels and circulating on social media, saying that the ECP had nothing to do with it.
Denotifies Imran as MNA, withholds notification of his victory from six NA constituencies
Interestingly, the order that mentioned Mr Khan’s constituency as NA-5 instead of NA-95 had several factual and typographic mistakes.
In its detailed order, the ECP asserted it was competent to entertain the reference from the NA Speaker under Article 63(2) of the Constitution and adjudicate upon the same under Article 63(3). “The question of disqualification as and when raised is not dependent upon time,” the order read.
It referred to the Supreme Court judgement in the case of “Mian Najeeb-ud-Din Owasi versus Amir yar Waran” holding that “…. for declaring a person to be disqualified, no period of limitation, …..would be relevant because such disqualification, was suffered at the time when he filed the nomination papers by making a declaration while having a fake degree in his hand, therefore in such case no time period can be prescribed.”
It said the ECP under Article 63(1)(p), read with Article 63(2), had the jurisdiction to entertain the matter in shape of reference forwarded by the National Assembly Speaker with respect to disqualification of assembly members.
It mentioned that the Supreme Court in its judgement titled as “Mian Najeeb ud Din Owaisi vs. Amir Yar Waran and Others” held that “We may again point out that ECP must adopt a distinction in between making, of a declaration, which is against the provisions of Article 62 & 63 of the Constitution and the process of criminal proceedings as a result of making misrepresentation of.
“Once a person has filed a declaration under his signature declaring that he fulfills the condition of Article 62 & 63 of the Constitution and he under takes that the statement is correct and if such declaration is incorrect the ECP, shall de-notify him for such misrepresentation, retrospectively.”
It said the respondent, by reason of making a false statement under oath, ceased to be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of parliament, because he could not be termed ‘righteous’ and ‘honest’. The false statement having been made in the nomination papers, in the statement of assets and in the affidavit exposed him to serious legal consequences.
The order contested Mr Khan’s claim that the proceeds of the foreign gifts with the assessed value of Rs108m he retained after depositing over Rs21m and sold for Rs58m had been deposited in his account at a private bank and the same amount was declared in tax returns for the year 2019.
The ECP, which obtained details of the bank account from the State Bank, said it transpired that his closing balance for the year 2018-19 was Rs51.8m, which was half the amount of the gifts assessed by Toshakhana record. The respondent in the statement of assets and liabilities declared the closing balance of the account, not the value of Toshakhana gifts actually assessed. The respondent did not provide the details of sale proceeds, the order noted. It also observed that even if the respondent’s claim was accepted that he had actually declared the value of Toshakhan gifts, the closing balance in his bank statement was still short by Rs34.8m as then the closing balance should have been Rs86.6m.
The respondent did not attach details of gift items, its sale particulars and the amount received and deposited in the bank, though he was required to provide the details of both cash in hand and in bank accounts as an annexure with Form B, the ECP order mentioned.
Imran’s victory notification withheld
The ECP withheld the victory notifications of Imran Khan from six constituencies in the recently held by-polls, though it notified PPP’s Syed Ali Musa Gilani and Hakeem Baloch as returned candidates from NA-157 (Multan) and NA-237 (Malir), respectively. It also issued notifications of the successful candidates from three Punjab Assembly constituencies.