PTI loses iconic electoral symbol, Party to play election innings without ‘bat’ symbol as SC declares null and void PHC order

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took a major blow on Saturday after the Supreme Court declares null and void the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) January 10 order, depriving the former ruling party of its ‘iconic’ just days ahead of the general elections.

A three-member bench — headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali — announced the verdict after a day-long hearing.

The election commission had on December 22 barred the PTI party from keeping its ‘bat’ symbol for the upcoming February elections, citing irregularities in their internal polls that did not comply with the party’s own constitution and election laws.

Following the ECP’s decision to revoke their symbol, the PTI challenged it in the PHC. A single-member judge granted temporary relief, reinstated the bat symbol, and referred the case to a larger bench for a hearing on January 9.

After hearing arguments from the counsels of both the PTI and the ECP the entire day today as well as yesterday, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa remarked that he will consult his co-judges before coming up with his observations.

“Both sides argued the case well. We will have a discussion. Let’s see what we come up with; can’t say anything yet,” the CJP added before the bench took a break.

On December 22, the ECP had decided against letting PTI retain its electoral symbol for the general elections, saying that it had failed to hold intra-party polls as per its prevailing constitution and election laws.

Subsequently, the PTI approached the PHC against the ECP order on Dec 26 and a single-member bench restored the party’s electoral symbol until Jan 9, directing that the case be fixed before a divisional bench.

On Dec 30, the electoral watchdog filed a review application in the PHC, arguing that the court had overstepped its jurisdiction. Days later, in a major blow for the PTI, the high court withdrew the stay on the ECP order, stripping the party of its symbol again.

Consequently, the PTI moved the Supreme Court against the restoration of the ECP ruling. On Wednesday, the party had withdrawn the appeal as the matter was already being heard by the PHC.

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