Notice issued to Nawaz and RO

LAHORE - Election Tribunal of the Lahore High Court Saturday issued notice to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, returning officer and others named as respondent in a petition filed against the candidature of Sharif in NA-123, Lahore which earlier, was accepted by the RO. The Tribunal comprising, Justice Akram Qureshi and Justice Hafiz Tariq Nasim, after hearing the preliminary arguments of senior advocate, Dr Qazi Mohyuddin, also admitted to regular hearing the petition filed by Mian Akhlaq Guddoo to seek disqualification of Nawaz Sharif to contest the by-election in the said Constituency on various grounds. The court has fixed May 27 for further hearing of the case while seeking appearance of the respondents also through press publication. For the petitioner, Qazi Mohyuddin argued that the RO had not applied its judicial mind while accepting nomination papers of Nawaz Sharif who, he added, in his papers had misstated on oath that he was not convicted in any case under the law when the fact was otherwise. The counsel referred to plane hijacking case of October 1999, tried under Section 402 (b) of the PPC and Section-7 of the Anti-terrorist Law, and said, the respondent was sentenced to imprisonment and fine in the same. He contended that Sharif was also convicted by the Accountability Court Attock, in 2002, in a reference tried on the charges of misuse of powers as prime minister. In this case, he said, Sharif was convicted to 14-year imprisonment and Rs 20 million fine besides disqualification to hold any public office for 21 years. The counsel said although the President had reprieved the imprisonment of Nawaz Sharif, for which he was authorized, but the fine penalty tagged with the disqualification to contest the election for 21 years still stood, as it was not outside the prerogative of the President. By that, the counsel said, Sharif was still a convicted person liable under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution read with section 99 of the Peoples Representative Act of 1976 which threw him below the criterion of 'sagacity and righteousness' fixed for a public office holder and to show him 'dishonest and profligate.'  Dr Qazi further alleged, the respondent had propagated against the judiciary and the judges as during the recent general election his papers were rejected, but he did not approach the tribunal under the law contending he had not accepted the PCO judges and had, rather moved the Chief Election Commission before which he had repeated the same contention which amount to disrespect of the judiciary on his part. And the CEC had upheld RO order of rejecting his NP. The counsel raised another point that the by-elections were as a matter of fact, continuation of the general elections as they take place on the seats vacated by the members who returned in the House. He said when nomination papers of Nawaz Sharif had already been rejected, under the principle of stopple, his papers for the by-elections could not be accepted for the reason, by-polls were meant to complete the process of the general election instead of carrying the status of independent elections. The counsel also argued to convince the Court that the respondent had committed offence of breaking the promise under the Islamic law and said Nawaz Sharif went on exile with mediation of friendly countries under an agreement but he committed breach of the same and came back to the country hence he had failed to fulfill a religious obligation. The counsel also argued to allege default of loans on the respondent and said, in 1998, Nawaz Sharif surrendered his assets to the banks to liquidate the debts of his companiesof which he was a guarantors of. But later on, things were twisted in a way that neither banks could get back the loans nor the assets could be detached from him. He said a decade had elapsed and no money had come to the banks. The tribunal heard the counsel for around an hour and issued notice to the respondent for replying the allegations through personal appearance or representative on May 27 while admitting the petition to regular hearing.

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