ECP’s acceptance of Nawaz’s nomination papers from Lahore’s NA-130 challenged

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Nawaz Sharif says ‘no wish to take revenge’, seeks support of all ‘constitutional institutions’

ISLAMABAD: The acceptance of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s nomination papers from Lahore’s constituency NA-130 for the upcoming Feb 8 general elections was challenged on Monday.

Last week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had approved the candidature of the former premier while rejecting the same of PTI bigwigs, including Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Today, Advocate Ishtiaq Ahmed Samsialvi, who also goes by Ishtiaq Chaudhry, the chief organiser of Pakistan Awami Mahaz‘s (PAM) lawyers’ wing, filed an appeal before the Lahore High Court’s appellate tribunal under Section 63 (appeal against scrutiny order) of the Elections Act 2017.

Chaudhry, also a candidate for NA-130, challenged the rejection of his nomination papers as well. The constituency’s returning officer (RO), the ECP and Nawaz have been made respondents in the case.

In his petition, the PAM leader urged the tribunal to strike down the acceptance of Nawaz’s papers as “illegal and unlawful” and that the papers be rejected due to his 2017 disqualification in the Panama Papers case, which the Supreme Court ruled was for life.

The appeal, seen by Dawn.com, also requested that he be allowed to contest the upcoming polls.

The SC advocate asked whether the apex court’s judgment was “not binding upon all the institutions”, including the ECP. The appellant further wondered whether he could be “restricted from contesting election in absence of any adverse order passed” by the RO.

Chaudhry stated that he filed his nomination papers on Dec 23 and that the RO accepted them “without any objection” upon scrutiny a few days later. He was told his name would be included in the list of eligible candidates issued on Dec 30, he added.

The PAM leader claimed that when he asked for copies of Nawaz’s nomination papers so he could file objections against them, the RO refused to provide them.

He argued that his name has been excluded from the list “illegally and unlawfully in absence of any order” and that the former prime minister’s lifetime disqualification “still holds the field” under Article 62 (1)(f) (qualifications for membership of parliament) of the Constitution.

Asserting that the RO “ignored” deciding the objection raised by him, Chaudhry said “no rule or law can override the judgment of the Supreme Court, which is the final arbitrator to decide all matters in all respects”.

He contended that the RO had “no justification” to accept Nawaz’s papers and that he was “liable to be proceeded under Article 204” (contempt of court) of the Constitution.

The appeal is set to be heard tomorrow.

According to Radio Pakistan, appeals against the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers for the polls can be submitted by Jan 3 (Wednesday) and decisions on these appeals will be made by Jan 10.

The preliminary list of candidates will be displayed on Jan 11 and candidates can withdraw their nomination papers by the next day, it added.

The report further stated that electoral symbols will be allotted on Jan 13 while polling for the general elections will be held on Feb 8.

Meanwhile, according to the revised schedule for reserved seats of women and non-Muslims, the last date for the scrutiny of the nomination papers is Jan 13 while the last date for filing appeals against decisions of ROs is Jan 16.

The revised list of candidates for reserved seats will be published on the 20th and candidates can withdraw their papers by Jan 22. The final list of the contesting candidates will be released the next day.