The references against Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen had been filed by the ruling PML-N in a tit-for-tat move after the PTI and some other parties moved disqualification references against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after the names of the ruling family appeared in the Panama Papers.
Interestingly, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had rejected the references against Premier Sharif but forwarded those against Imran and Tareen to the ECP.
Under rules, once a reference against a lawmaker is filed to the speaker’s office, he/she has to take a decision within 60 days. The speaker has to use his mind judiciously either to reject such a reference in his office or in case he feels there are cogent grounds provided by the petitioner, he refers the matter to the ECP, which then has to take a decision within 90 days.
The ECP decision raises a question mark on the speaker’s impartiality. Apart from that, the ECP took almost six months – much longer than the stipulated timeframe given in the law to decide a case.
A five-member ECP bench – headed by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan – held several hearings in the meantime and castigated both the parties for causing the inordinate delay. Lawyers of one party or the other kept on getting adjournments on one pretext or the other.