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National

September 8, 2017

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Rivals trying to knock out Kulsoom Nawaz technically

Rivals trying to knock out Kulsoom Nawaz technically

ISLAMABAD: Some rivals of Begum Kulsoom in the by-election to NA-120 Lahore seat are still struggling hard to get her technically knocked out instead of confronting her in the fierce electoral clash, taking place on September 17.

They forcefully challenged her candidature before the Returning Officer (RO). After the rejection of their objections at the first stage, they called this decision into question before the two-judge election tribunal comprising Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh and Justice Shahid Waheed of the Lahore High Court (LHC) that also turned down their plea.

Under section 14 of the Representation of People Act (ROPA), 1976, the tribunal decision is final and can’t be appealed against in the Supreme Court. The provision says that a candidate, may prefer an appeal against the decision of the RO rejecting or, as the case may be, accepting the nomination paper of a contestant to the tribunal formed for the constituency to which the nomination relates and consisting of not less than two or more than three judges of the high court nominated by the Chief Election Commissioner with the approval of the President; and such appeal shall be summarily decided within such time as may be notified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and any order passed thereon shall be final. An appeal not disposed of within the period specified so shall be deemed to have been rejected.

All this due process has to be hurriedly completed so that there is no delay in the scheduled election. With this in view, the tribunal decided the instant appeal quickly.

However, after finding that the tribunal’s decision is not appealable under the ROPA, Begum Kulsoom’s opponents have gone to the LHC by filing identical writ petitions in their desperate bid to get her ousted from the electoral contest. Knocking at the door of the tribunal or any other judicial forum to get certain grievances redressed is their lawful right, but just nine days left to the polling need to be consumed in vigorous election campaign instead of fighting the case in the LHC to expel their archrival from the field.

This is happening when the ECP is all set to hold the polling -- have ordered printing of ballot papers for the constituency, finalized the plan to install CCTV cameras at all the polling stations and printing  press, and sought deployment of army troops and Rangers.

However, one judge after the other is recusing to hear these writ petitions. As a result, no proceedings have been held on them so far. The next week may see hearing. On Thursday, the LHC constituted a three-member bench -- comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi and Justice Shahid Jameel -- for the third time to hear these pleas. A day earlier, a three-member panel was dissolved after Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza refused to hear the case for personal reasons. In such eventuality, a new panel had to be formed. Last week, another bench also met the same fate after Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan recused himself from the case for personal reasons.

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