LHC orders ECP to appoint 6 more election tribunals judges

LAHORE   -   The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to appoint as election tribunals six more judges, nominated by the LHC chief justice, for hearing of election petitions regarding the General Elections 2024. The court further noted that the ECP should issue the notification regarding the appointments within one week, and if the ECP failed to do so, it would be deemed to have been issued. The LHC office should proceed with the orders and place the matter before the LHC chief justice for assigning areas to the election tribunals, it added.

The court held that in matters of appointment of election tribunals under Section 140 of the Election Act 2017, the opinion of the chief justice of a High Court shall have preeminence over a contrary view of the ECP, and the ECP is bound to appoint judges nominated by the chief justice.

Justice Shahid Karim announced the verdict while allowing petitions filed by PTI-backed independent candidates, advocate Salman Akram Raja and Rao Omar Hashim Khan, who had lost their general election from NA-128, Lahore, and NA-139, Pakpattan, respectively, for the appointment of additional election tribunals in Punjab. The court had reserved the verdict on the petitions after hearing detailed arguments from the parties, and it was announced in open court on Wednesday.

The petitioners had submitted that the ECP notified five election tribunals each for Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three for Balochistan, and one for Islamabad pursuant to nominations sent by the chief justices of the respective high courts.

They submitted that in Punjab, the ECP initially appointed two of the judges nominated by the LHC chief justice as election tribunals but declined to appoint six more judges recommended by the LHC chief justice.

The ECP appointed two judges out of the six as election tribunals and also changed their territorial jurisdiction, besides requesting a further panel of sitting judges for their appointment as election tribunals, the petitioners added.

They pleaded with the court to order the ECP to appoint the six judges, as election tribunals, nominated by the chief justice for the expeditious disposal of the petitions regarding the General Elections 2024.

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