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Monday April 22, 2024

Over 35 MPs surviving on litigations

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ruling on the high-profile NA-154 constituency of Lodhran, where the October 11 by-election could not be held because of the stay order granted to the disqualified Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate, will likely come sooner rather than later, given the tone and tenor of the ongoing

By Tariq Butt
October 23, 2015
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ruling on the high-profile NA-154 constituency of Lodhran, where the October 11 by-election could not be held because of the stay order granted to the disqualified Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate, will likely come sooner rather than later, given the tone and tenor of the ongoing judicial proceedings.
Justice Saqib Nisar, who heads the three-member bench, which is hearing Siddique Baloch’s appeal against the decision of the Multan election tribunal, was rightly peeved due to the earlier remarks made by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders that the PML-N is hiding behind stay orders to escape the by-election where Jehangir Tareen was pitched against the PML-N nominee.
Conscious of the scandalous comments, the bench is apparently poised to hand down its decision on Baloch’s appeal very soon, in weeks. Obviously, another big electoral contest will be shortly held if the tribunal’s decision was upheld by the apex court.
Justice Saqib Nisar told Tareen’s lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan that he was hurt by the way the stay order was projected (by the PTI). “We are being accused of granting the stay when you yourself (Makhdoom Ali Khan) had conceded to the stay,” he observed.
Responding, the lawyer stated that he never commented on the judges’ observations. “You will never see me arguing over cases outside court.”
Following the grant of stay to Baloch, Tareen had remarked that the PML-N was hiding behind such orders. After that, the PTI supporters had unleashed attacks on social media against the judiciary for allegedly supporting the ruling party.
Justice Saqib Nisar also said that he did not want to hear outside the court that the highest judicial forum was protecting and sheltering Baloch.
Following the judge’s remarks, Tareen said outside the courtroom that he was making a ‘political statement’ when he had accused his rivals of “running away from the elections”. His comment was akin to what PTI Chairman Imran Khan had stated about his repeated allegation of “35 punctures” after it turned out to be baseless at every forum.
The by-election to NA-154 had to be postponed due to the stay order given to the PML-N nominee, just 12 days before the polling day, when Tareen and Baloch had been engaged in intensive election campaign.
However, apart from this stay, more than 35 federal and provincial lawmakers belonging to all major political parties are already surviving in the legislatures on the force of such judicial commands or litigation.
Of the MPs, who have got relief from the apex court after they were unseated by the election tribunals, there are 15 members of the National Assembly (MNAs); eight members of the Punjab and Sindh legislatures each; seven members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assembly and one member of the Balochistan legislature, according to an official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
These MPs hail from the PTI, PML-N, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiate Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). Independents also figure among them.
The member of the National Assembly (MNAs) whose cases are pending disposal in the superior courts were elected from NA-15 Karak, NA-46 tribal area, NA-39 tribal area, NA-66 Sargodha, NA-176 Muzaffargarh, NA-47 tribal area, NA-267 Kachhi-cum-Jhal Magsi, NA-211 Naushero Feroz, NA-261 Pishin-cum-Ziarat, NA-125 Lahore and NA-215 Khairpur in the 2013 general elections.
Besides, the case of Ghulam Sarwar Khan, PTI MNA, elected from NA-53 Rawalpindi, is also pending in the apex court. He is continuing on the force of a judicial order. A case is going on against him on the question of his educational degree.
When Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was unseated by an election tribunal, calls were made to him to bow before the judgment and refrain from hiding behind the stay order. He did so, contested the by-election and won NA-122 Lahore.
Not a single federal or provincial lawmaker from the present or previous lot has ever accepted an adverse decision of a tribunal or the first court and everyone always approached the superior forums, availing the facility of the stay.
There are several instances when MPs had lived their full parliamentary terms on such orders as the courts could not decide the pleas at an early date.
Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, who was unseated by a tribunal for irregularities committed by the election staff, is a leading figure, continuing as MP after getting a stay order from the apex court after it had suspended the unseating ruling.
The petition of PTI’s Usman Dar is also pending disposal in the Supreme Court. His plea challenging the victory of Defence Minister Khawaja M Asif from NA-110 Sialkot had been dismissed by a tribunal.
In its decision, the tribunal had written that the way Dar avoided entering the witness box and disregarded the directions of this forum on the pretext of business tour abroad, provides a basis to infer that he is no more interested in the matter. Costs of adjournments to the tune of Rs30,000 have not been paid by him till date. It appears that after filing the election petition, Dar lost interest and then attempted to prolong the trial, the order said adding that he failed to prove the allegations.