A Lahore High Court (LHC) bench formed to hear Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jamshed Iqbal Cheema’s plea against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over rejection of his nomination papers was dissolved again on Monday after another judge withdrew from the bench over “personal reasons”.
This is the second time that a judge of the LHC has refused to hear the matter involving the PTI leader from Lahore whose nomination papers, along with his covering candidate, to contest the NA-133 by-polls — to be held on Dec 5 — were rejected by the ECP returning officer (RO).
His appeal against the RO’s order was subsequently rejected by the ECP Appellate Tribunal as well.
The revised division bench headed by Justice Shujaat Ali Khan was dissolved after Justice Faisal Zaman Khan excused himself from hearing the case due to “personal reasons”.
After his refusal, the case was referred back to LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti so that a new bench could be established in the case.
Last week, Justice Shahid Waheed who was heading the bench recused himself owing to “personal reasons”. Justice Chaudhary Muhammad Iqbal was the second member of the bench.
Case in LHC
After the ECP rejected Cheema and his wife Mussarat Cheema’s papers, the PTI leaders moved the LHC on Nov 9 asking it to set aside the returning officer and Election Appellate Tribunal’s orders.
They also requested the LHC to set aside the by-election schedule issued by the ECP.
The RO had rejected Jamshed’s candidacy for the NA-133 by-elections on the ground that his proposer did not belong to the constituency where he – and his covering candidate Musarat Cheema – were contesting the elections.
The petition requested the announcement of a fresh election schedule after a correction of the record of the ECP.
The petition further requested the court that ECP should perform its constitutional duty of preparing accurate electoral rolls, to enable all eligible voters to exercise their right and guard against the corrupt practices of including non-residents as voters to affect the election result.
They stated that they were shocked to find out that their proposer Bilal Hussain’s name was not reflected in the electoral rolls of NA-133. They revealed that the proposer was a resident of Mohallah Liaquat Abad, Kot Lakhpat, Lahore, which came within the electoral area of NA-133.
They contended that all of Hussain’s family members are residents of the same address and registered voters of NA-133. However, despite the proposer being a resident of the same house – with an electricity connection under his name, address mentioned in his domicile and CNIC – his name fell under the NA-130 district, due to a clerical mistake.
They claimed that it was not an error in the nomination papers but in the record of the ECP due to a misplaced census circle.