The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday dismissed the PTI’s reference seeking disqualification of its dissident members of the National Assembly. A three-member bench – headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja – reserved the decision earlier after hearing arguments from the PTI and the dissident MNAs lawyers. Ex-prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan had sent a declaration to former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser seeking disqualification of 20 party members after they decided to vote against him in the no-confidence motion. However, the votes of the dissident MNAs were not needed to oust Khan from power as the opposition had enough votes to oust the PTI government. The acting speaker had sent the references against the dissident members on April 14. In its short verdict, the Election Commission unanimously said the declaration filed against the MNAs under Article 63(A) was not found in accordance with the Constitution. The PTI had filed references against MNAs Noor Alam Khan, Dr Mohammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, Nawab Sher Waseer, Raja Riaz Ahmad, Ahmed Hussain Deharr, Rana Mohammad Qasim Noon, Asim Nazeer, Amjad Farooq Khosa, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf, Syed Mobeen Ahmed, Sayed Sami-ul-Hassan Gillani, Mohammad Abdul Ghaffar Wattoo, Sayed Basit Ahmad Sultan, Aamir Talal Gopang, Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Wajiha Qamar, Nuzhat Pathan and Javeria Zafar. The ECP rejected the request to accept any more records from the PTI. PTI’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry requested the court to provide a copy of the reserved verdict, saying that he will appeal against it. He maintained that the dissidents had opposed PTI’s request to provide more records, says a news report. “Some things couldn’t be brought on record properly,” Faisal said. Faisal said he believed that he was no more needed and that his case had become biased. Presenting his arguments, Noor Alam Khan’s lawyer Gohar Khan maintained that Article 63(A)1 did not apply to Noor. “The show-cause notice issued by the PTI secretary-general doesn’t have legal status. Therefore, Noor is still a PTI member,” Gohar argued. He informed ECP that Noor had stated in response to PTI’s show-cause notice that he has neither left PTI nor its parliamentary party. He said the party responded to the reply with directives not to vote on the no-confidence motion against then prime minister Imran Khan. “This proves that the party recognized Noor as its member,” Gohar said. He went on to say that Noor attended the meeting on April 3 as per the party’s directives to ensure attendance. After this, the party didn’t issue any other directive restricting Noor from attending its meetings. Gohar contended that his client didn’t join any other political party but the media gave an impression that Noor violated the party policy. When asked if Noor cast a vote on the day of voting on the no-confidence motion, Gohar responded in the negative. Meanwhile, ECP bench member Nasir Durrani inquired how it was concluded that only a five-member bench of the Commission can announce the verdict. At this, Gohar replied that the Supreme Court had declared that only a full court of ECP can announce a verdict in a disqualification case. With this, Gohar completed his arguments. PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry in a statement termed the ECP’s decision “foolish” but “expected” as it was already apparent what conclusion the electoral body would reach. He said the party would fight such “lawlessness” and prevail with the people’s support. “This decision of the Election Commission will be challenged in the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that a reference would be filed against Raja in the Supreme Judicial Council. The former information minister had announced plans for reference earlier in the day. “The Election Commission has become the PML-N’s B-team,” Chaudhry alleged. “The ECP says that those who abandoned the party are still a part of it. All these lotas (turncoats) have been posting pictures of Nawaz Sharif in their constituencies,” he added.