PTI moves IHC for disqualification of Zardari

Concealment of assets

ISLAMABAD  -   Two leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Monday approached the Islamabad High Court seeking disqualification of former president Asif Ali Zardari under Article 62(1)(f) of Constitution for non-disclosure of luxury apartment in USA and expensive vehicles in his nomination papers for general elections 2018.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah will take up the two identical petitions filed by PTI leaders Khurram Sher Zaman Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Sindh and Usman Dar today (Tuesday).

The court will conduct hearing in these two petitions as an objection matter since the registrar office of IHC has raised objections on the petitions.

The petitioners filed these two constitutional petitions against PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari under Article 184(3) of Constitution through their counsel Advocate Sikandar Bashir Mohmand and cited Asif Ali Zardari Member National Assembly (MNA), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Secretary National Assembly as respondents.

In their petition, they contended that Asif Zardari is neither sadiq nor ameen (nor righteous nor sagacious) in terms of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and also Section 231 of the Election Act. Therefore Respondent No1 (Asif Zardari) is not qualified to be elected or chosen as a Member of the National Assembly (MNA).

The petitioners prayed to the court to hold and declare that PPP co-chairman is permanently disqualified from being and shall forthwith cease to be MNA. They requested the court to declare that Zardari is not qualified to be elected or chosen or to officiate as or exercise powers of the ‘Party Head’ within the meaning of Article 63A of the Constitution.

They stated that the JIT in its final report in fake accounts case revealed and provided irrefutable proof that Asif Zardari is the owner of a valuable luxury apartment in the Upper East of the Borough of Manhattan, New York City, United States of America (being Apartment 37F in the building known as ‘The Belaire Condominium’ bearing the address 524, East 72nd Street, 37F, Manhattan (“New York Apartment”) purchased for $530,000 in 2007 by him. Two luxury armoured vehicles (being Mitsubishi Pajero vehicles (Model 2010), registration numbers ST-347 and ST-348 and chassis numbers MMTGRKH80AF000467 and MMTGRKH80AF002252 respectively imported from abroad and registered in the name of Zardari with the Excise & Taxation Department, Islamabad.

They added that both the apartments and the two armoured vehicles have not been disclosed in Form B of the Nomination Papers filed by Respondent No. 1 on 6-6-2018 as a candidate for NA-213 in the 2018 General Elections.

The petitioner said the documents submitted by him prove that in 2015 Asif Zardari also purchased a Parking Space for the NY Apartment for an estimated $130,000 which has also not been disclosed by him in his Nomination Papers.

They added that the documents appended with the petition regarding apartments are duly certified copies of the official record of the City of New York, Department of Finance, Office of the City Register, Manhattan, New York City, and in relation to vehicles it is the official record of the Excise & Taxation Department, Islamabad.

The petitioners submitted that the burden of proof, if any, to establish ownership of the assets in question by PPP co-chairman and non-disclosure thereof in his nomination Papers has been duly and fully discharged by him through the provision of the documents and information appended with this Petition. The onus and burden of proof now stands completely shifted to the Respondent No 1 (Zardari), he said.

The petitioners sought relief in the nature of orders, directions and declaration(s) against the Respondent No 1, inter alia, under Article 184(3) read with Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and Section 231 of the Election Act. He also submitted that it is also settled law that quo warranto proceedings are not strictly adversarial and that these proceedings carry an inquisitorial rigor to protect the public office.

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