The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday lodged a reference against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), alleging that Mr Raja had violated his oath by developing an “illicit relationship” with the government to target the former ruling party.
The petition was moved by the party’s vice president, Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry, through Dr Babar Awan. In a reference to the acceptance of piecemeal resignations of the PTI MNAs, it claimed that the CEC, being head of the constitutional body, should have looked into all constitutional requirements, but he conveniently went along with the government in “selective culling of PTI MNAs”.
The PTI alleged that the CEC “violated his oath and developed illicit relationship with the imposed government” adding that the election commission chief was now willing to accommodate the Sindh government in the local bodies elections. He also postponed the by-elections as per desires of the government, it claimed, and also referred to a recent “audio leak” to prove the “biased attitude of the CEC”.
It alleged that CEC was not fit to hold the constitutional post as he had failed to discharge duties so it was requested to accept the reference and remove the CEC from the post. Moreover, it demanded that as an interim measure during the pendency of the petition the CEC may be stopped from performing duties as the ECP chief.
Complaint against Sikandar Raja sent to SJC; Mazari urges Justice Bandial to take notice of Azam Swati’s ‘custodial torture’
Supreme Court lawyer Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar, while talking to Dawn, said that anyone could file a complaint under Article 209 of the Constitution against a judge or in the present case the CEC, but it was the prerogative of the Supreme Judicial Council to entertain the complaint.
He said there were only two grounds available under the Constitution for the removal of the CEC: either he is incapable to perform his duties on grounds of physical or mental capability or he has been found involved in misconduct after proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council.
However, Mr Khokhar said in both situations, the CEC would be given an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations. Mr Khokhar said that under the Election Act 2017, the treasury and opposition have the mandate to appoint the CEC under Article 213 for a period of five years through consultation.
Mr Khokhar said that the judicial council after preliminary proceedings could issue a show cause notice to the respondent and if satisfied with the response the proceedings could be dropped. If not satisfied with the response, the council could continue with the proceedings till the issuance of final recommendations to the president.
Meanwhile, PTI Senior Vice President Dr Shireen Mazari in a letter urged the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to take immediate notice of the custodial torture of 74-year-old Senator Azam Swati allegedly by the agencies who was stripped naked and tortured all night.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ms Mazari stated that this practice by agencies of stripping naked those in custody was not only a complete violation of all laws and our constitutional guarantees of human rights but reflected a perverted mindset. “Is this what’s learned from training in the US because [it is] similar to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo methods,” she lashed out in her letter.