ISLAMABAD: The beleaguered Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) filed a miscellaneous application in the Supreme Court on Saturday, seeking an expedited hearing for its petition challenging the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) January 3 order that deprived the party of its distinctive election symbol, the “bat.”
On January 3, the PHC nullified the stay order issued by its single-member bench, reinstating the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to invalidate PTI’s intra-party polls and strip it of its election symbol. PTI contested this verdict by appealing to the highest court.
In its miscellaneous plea, PTI implored the top court to schedule a hearing for its petition on Monday, citing the “interest of justice.”
Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, representing PTI, argued, “This is an election matter and involves the election symbol of a political party. If interim relief is not expedited and heard, the applicant would be excluded from the process, and all its candidates would compete under separate symbols, potentially avoiding the floor crossing law, leading to corruption. Additionally, the applicant would have no share of the 227 reserved seats.”
The electoral symbol holds paramount importance for any political party, as it helps voters identify their preferred candidate on polling day. Without a unified symbol, PTI risks losing votes due to voter confusion.
Failure to restore PTI’s electoral symbol by the top court would force the party to participate in the upcoming elections without its iconic “bat.” Party leaders have labeled this development a “major setback,” given their consistent use of the symbol in various polls.
It is noteworthy that the PHC, in a six-page order, acknowledged that its earlier decision had “prima facie created hindrance in the smooth process of the election which is to be conducted by the ECP.”
The court further stated, “…the interim order of this court passed in favor of the PTI is hereby recalled, and consequently, the Election Commission of Pakistan is directed to proceed with the election process as per its constitutional mandate.”
The ECP had filed a review petition at the high court against the PHC’s December 26 decision, which had suspended the ECP’s order and reinstated the PTI’s ‘bat’ symbol until a final decision was reached.
On December 22, the ECP declared PTI’s intra-party polls “illegal” and revoked its use of the ‘bat’ symbol. As a result of the PHC’s January 3 order, PTI’s candidates would now have to contest elections “independently,” according to Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, chief of the think tank Pildat.