Pakistan poll body demands signed apology from Imran Khan in election code violation case, say reports

Islamabad: Pakistan's election commission on Thursday demanded a signed apology from prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan for violating the electoral code of conduct while casting his vote in the general election on 25 July, according to media reports. A four-member bench headed by the Chief Election Commissioner Muhammad Raza Khan heard the case against Imran, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took notice of the photos of him stamping the ballot paper in full public glare in the NA-53 Islamabad constituency.

 Pakistan poll body demands signed apology from Imran Khan in election code violation case, say reports

File image of Pakistan's prime minister in-waiting Imran Khan. AP

Imran's counsel Babar Awan, who appeared before the ECP, submitted a written reply stating that his client did not intentionally stamp his ballot publicly, Geo News reported. According to the reply, photos of Imran's ballot were taken without his permission. The curtain, used around the ballot for secrecy, had fallen due to the crowd inside the polling booth, it said. "The divider (at the booth) was removed due to rush," Awan told the bench. When Imran asked staff for instructions, he was told how to cast his vote, he was quoted as saying by The News.

Awan also sought an end to the case and requested the ECP to issue the notification for Imran's victory from NA-53 Islamabad constituency.  The ECP, however, dismissed the reply submitted by Awan and demanded an affidavit from Imran apologising for the controversial vote casting complete with his signature. The commission then adjourned the hearing till Friday.

Meanwhile, the ECP on Thursday accepted the apologies tendered by Imran, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman for using indecent language during their election campaigns. "Do not use such language in the future," a four-member bench of the ECP headed by the chief election commissioner warned the four leaders while accepting their apologies.

Last month, the ECP had issued notices to the four politicians for using indecent language during their election campaigns. The ECP had said notices were taken on the basis of media reports suggesting the use of foul language by the leaders. Imran had defeated former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the NA-53 Islamabad seat by 48,577 votes.

The electoral body has withheld notification of Imran's victory from the constituency in view of the pending case against the PTI chief for violating the electoral code of conduct. According to Section 185 of the Election Act, a person can be given a six-month jail sentence and/or fine of Rs 1,000 for not casting their vote in secrecy. On 30 July, the ECP sought a written reply from Imran, who has been nominated by the PTI as the next prime minister after the party emerged as the largest in the National Assembly in the election.

Imran had contested from five constituencies and had won from all of them. But the ECP has only granted him temporary permission to take oath as a member of the National Assembly, pending the outcome of the case of violation of electoral code of conduct.

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Updated Date: Aug 09, 2018 22:27:00 IST