The ECP on Friday issued a notice to the PTI in response to pleas against the party’s intra-party elections, alleging they were “rigged and fraudulent”. The ECP issued a notice to the party in response to the recent plea filed by estranged PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar, who had challenged the conduct of intra-party elections that resulted in Barrister Gohar Khan replacing Imran Khan as PTI chairman. Separately, the leaders of the country’s mainstream parties, including the PML-N and PPP, also questioned the legitimacy of the intra-party elections. The same day, Babar penned a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja. He had said that after the commission directed the party to hold the polls, the PTI core committee issued a press release saying that preparations were complete and announced Niazullah Niazi as the PTI CEC. As the proceedings of the case commenced at the ECP, Babar, along with his lawyer, appeared before the commission and said that the party had not provided any schedule for the polls. “The constitution and the law are very clear about it; hence, I’ve appeared here,” emphasised Babar. Babar’s lawyer, Syed Ahmed Hasan, highlighted that the ECP had ordered intra-party polls in accordance with the party’s constitution. However, he pointed out the absence of a voter list and a nomination mechanism, stating, “The party’s constitution makes no mention of an election programme.” In response, an ECP member sought a clarification on it. Hasan stated, “The party’s election commissioner has been keeping access to the database of the party with him.” He said the ECP had directed that the polls be re-commenced and the PTI conducted elections within two days of the order without fulfilling requirements. “A man was made chairman behind closed doors,” the petitioner’s counsel argued. He said neither any scrutiny was conducted nor any paperwork was done as well as no list of final candidates was displayed. “Hasn’t your membership [of the party] ended,” asked ECP member. Babar’s lawyer said it had not yet ended, adding that a court’s decision was available in this regard. He said his client was barred from garnering nomination papers before the intra-party polls. An ECP member sought a clarification from the counsel, asking “are you challenging the intra-party polls or the PTI’s constitution.” The lawyer said PTI’s polls were not transparent. An ECP member asked whether Babar had attempted to obtain nomination papers. Babar’s lawyer responded, stating, “We went to the party’s office and submitted video evidence.” The commission, intrigued by the claim, requested videographic proof mentioned by the petitioner. Subsequently, the video was screened during the hearing. When an ECP member asked about the location shown in the footage, Babar’s counsel clarified that it was the PTI’s office situated in Islamabad’s G-8 sector. Furthermore, he asserted that the ECP could conduct forensic analysis of the video if deemed necessary. Babar’s counsel implored the commission to declare the PTI’s polls null and void and to mandate a fresh conduct of the elections. “We have also provided video evidence regarding the party’s polls.” However, an ECP member remarked: “The law does not say that we order polls again and again.” A lawyer representing a citizen, Raja Tahir Nawaz, who separately contested the PTI’s intra-party polls, also appeared before the commission. He underlined that every individual should be afforded an opportunity to participate in intra-party polls according to the party’s constitution. The lawyer argued that individuals in custody and those in hiding were being elected to party positions. He contended that the entire electoral process was conducted improperly and called for the polls to be declared null and void. He also urged the ECP to take decisive action on the matter and barred the party from allegedly falling into the hands of controversial figures. However, an ECP member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa insisted that elections could not be conducted multiple times, emphasising that they were bound to occur only once.After the hearing, the ECP issued a notice to the PTI, seeking its response to the objections raised in the pleas.