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September 19, 2017

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Respect NA-120 public mandate: SC

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday observed that the public mandate should be respected, as it is the essence of democratic dispensation and dismissed a petition, challenging the candidacy of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz in the National Assembly constituency NA-120 by-polls.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, dismissed as withdrawn, two identical petitions filed by Ishtiaq Ahmed Chaudhry of Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Faisal Mir of Pakistan People’s Party, challenging the candidacy of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz allegedly for not disclosing her assets in the nomination papers.

The petitioners had moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) invoking its jurisdiction, challenging the decisions of the returning officer and the election tribunal, whereby nomination papers of Kulsoom Nawaz were accepted.

They had prayed to the apex court to quash the high court's Sept 13 verdict, which dismissed the appeals challenging the acceptance of Kulsoom's nomination papers. An LHC full bench had dismissed, with a 2-1 majority decision, the identical petitions, challenging Kulsoom's candidature.

The apex court, however, dismissed as withdrawn both the petitions on Monday, with the ruling that they (petitioners) had not provided details of the assets of the respondent (Kulsoom). Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was unofficially declared the winning candidate from NA-120 constituency after bagging 61,745 votes. She defeated Dr Yasmin Rashid of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, who secured 47,099 votes.

The petitioners, in their identical petitions, contended that Begum Kulsoom had failed to submit full details of her tax returns and statements of assets and liabilities. They further submitted that she purposely concealed her assets and did not disclose a United Arab Emirates iqama (work permit) with her nomination papers; therefore, she is ineligible to participate in the by-election under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that as the election for NA-120 was over, the petitioners should approach the Election Commission of Pakistan. Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, another member of the bench, observed that the instant case related to public votes and democratic system, hence the public mandate should be respected as it is the essence of democratic dispensation.

Azhar Siddique, counsel for Pakistan Awami Tehreek, submitted that his client had withdrawn his nomination papers. Justice Isa asked the counsel as to why he filed an appeal in the apex court adding that under what law his appeal should be heard by the court. Azhar Siddique contended that at the time of filing of an appeal, his client was a candidate but later he withdrew his candidacy. It’s a case of an impression, Azhar Siddique said.

“Our first impression is against you,” Justice Qazi Faiz Isa replied. Azhar Siddique submitted that he was not provided any remedy in the instant matter. The court, however, told the counsel that still he had remedy.

At this, the PAT counsel withdrew his petition at which the court dismissed it as withdrawn. During the course of hearing, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa asked the counsel for Faisal Mir of the PPP to provide evidence that proved that Begum Kulsoom did not disclose her assets in the nomination papers. “Give us the proof or whether you have kept it in the pocket,” Justice Isa asked the learned counsel adding that the counsel was relying on those documents which he did not have. “Do not mislead the court,” Justice Isa told the counsel. Then the court dismissed as withdrawn the identical petitions.

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