Appeal against Nawaz’s by-poll eligibility referred to CEC
* Tribunal’s two judges write separate decisions on appeal
LAHORE: After the two members of an election tribunal of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday could not reach a unanimous decision on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif’s eligibility to contest elections from the NA-52 constituency in Rawalpindi, they referred the case to the chief election commissioner (CEC) for further proceeding.
Justice Mian Najamuz Zaman and Justice Tariq Shamim wrote separate decisions on an appeal by Nasir Raja challenging the acceptance of Nawaz’s nomination papers by the returning officer (RO).
Justice Zaman dismissed the petition as “infructuous”, while Justice Shamim accepted the appeal and set aside the RO’s acceptance of Nawaz’s nomination.
The tribunal wrote in its order that “since members of tribunal are in disagreement with each other and have passed separate judgements on the appeal, the case is referred to the chief election commission of Pakistan”.
Justice Zaman wrote in his judgement that since Nawaz had withdrawn his nomination papers from the NA-52 constituency, it would be unfair to comment on his credibility as a candidate. He also wrote that the CEC had set June 2 as the deadline for the withdrawal of nomination papers and that it meant the papers could be withdrawn at any time before June 2.
Justice Tariq Shamim wrote that the mere withdrawal of nomination papers did not stop the tribunal from deciding a candidate’s qualification or disqualification. Referring the Supreme Court’s decision in Wahabul Khairi case (1999), the judge observed that it was apparent from the judgements referred by appellant counsel Dr Qazi Mayuddin that Nawaz was convicted by competent courts of law and hence stands disqualified.
The judge also said Nawaz had filed nomination papers to contest the February 18 elections but his papers were rejected by the RO, on the grounds that he was a convict. No appeal was preferred against that order. “I am at a loss to understand why after a lapse of two months, the RO has accepted Nawaz’s papers.”
Justice Shamim also rejected Nawaz’s claim that he suffered no disqualification. “It has also been noted that Nawaz had filed a declaration before the RO with his papers that he does not suffer any election disqualification – a claim which is obviously contrary to what had emerged in the case. In the light of all these circumstances I accepted the appeal and set aside the RO’s order.”