Prohibited Funding: ECP rejects PTI’s plea to cross-examine witnesses

ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the PTI’s application demanding the cross-examination of key witnesses, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday decided to move ahead with the show-cause notice issued to the party in the prohibited funding case.

The objections raised by the PTI against Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja’s show-cause notice were also dismissed.

A three-member bench, headed by the CEC, heard the case and announced the verdict it had reserved on December 20. The commission passed the judgment on August 2 last year, documenting financial fraud and over $7 million of illegal funding.

It issued a show-cause notice to the PTI in the same month to justify why further legal action should not be taken against it for gross financial irregularities. Instead of responding to the show-cause notice, the PTI had filed a new application seeking cross-examination of key witnesses including the scrutiny committee and bank officers.

However, the commission dismissed the party’s application. During the hearing, the CEC asked about the progress of the case in the Islamabad High Court.

PTI lawyer Nadeem Amjad replied that the IHC had directed the commission to hear the parties. The CEC observed that the commission had not been stopped from taking action, adding that the PTI’s prohibited funding case should be taken forward.

He pointed out that on August 23, the PTI had sought six weeks’ time for its arguments. Raja noted that the party had sought time to acquire records from abroad. He added that over six months had passed now. The PTI’s lawyer filed a plea to put off the hearing of the case for two weeks. However, the CEC refused to accept the plea, observing that time could not be given now. The ECP adjourned the hearing of the case until March 28.

On August 2 last year, the ECP had announced its ruling in the long-awaited, cliffhanger case of the PTI’s prohibited funding. It ruled that the party did indeed receive illegal funding while issuing a notice to the party asking why the funds should not be confiscated.

A three-member ECP bench, headed by the CEC, announced the verdict in a case filed by PTI founding member Akbar S Babar that had been pending since November 14, 2014.

In its written order, the ECP said the political party received millions of dollars in illegal funds from foreign countries, including the US, UK, UAE, and Australia.

However, the party challenged the commission’s verdict in the IHC a few days later, seeking it to be declared “illegal”.

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