LAHORE – The legal battles for acceptance and rejection of candidates’ nomination papers, conviction of PML-N leaders in Kasur rally case and hearing of appeals in Model Town killings case were important developments at the Lahore High Court last week.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, PTI’s Fawad Chaudhary, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq are the prominent ones who moved the courts for nomination papers among many others.
Initially, Abbasi was ousted from the scene when an election tribunal declared him disqualified for life but a two-member bench suspended the decision on his petition and allowed him to contest election from his home constituency, NA-57, Murree. The court issued notice to the parties and sought replies for July 2. Similarly, a returning officer rejected the nomination papers of PTI chief Imran Khan for NA-95, Mianwali, but later an appellate tribunal set aside this and allowed Khan to contest election in the constituency.
Another tribunal consisting of Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh dismissed appeal of Pakistan Justice Party’s Mudassar Chaudhry against Imran Khan for NA-131 and allowed Khan to contest election. Meanwhile, the bench turned down appeal of PML-N candidate Sardar Ayaz Sadiq against nomination papers of PTI candidate Aleem Khan for NA-129.
PTI’s spokesperson Fawad Chaudhary was also disqualified by an election tribunal comprising Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi under Article 62 (1) (f). But he challenged the decision of the tribunal before the Lahore High Court and a two-member bench led by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi suspended the tribunal’s decision and allowed him to contest election. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi personally came to the court to attend the proceedings of his own case and thus, he got an opportunity to attend proceedings of another case against him for endorsing interview of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif he had given to a local newspaper about Mumbai attacks. He told a three-member full bench seized with the hearing of petitions against him (Abbasi) and his leader Nawaz Sharif that he came to know about the case through the media reports and yet had not received any court notice. He said as he came to know he decided to appear before the bench. The full bench headed by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi appreciated his approach.
The former premier made a request to the bench to adjourn the case for a date after July 25—the elections day, which the court accepted and adjourned the hearing till after the general election. The court issued fresh notices to him and journalist Cyril Almeida in the case.
Abbasi, later, talking to the reporters, said he never disclosed minutes of the National Security Council’s meeting to anyone and claimed he always respected his oath. He said he respected courts and would appear whenever he was summoned. The process of election should not be made controversial because it paved the way for democracy. He questioned the rejection of nomination papers on technical grounds, saying the papers were not rejected on such grounds anywhere in the world.
Abbasi said July 25 was the day when the whole nation would give its decision. He said PML-N would win all the seats from the province. Talking about the references against Sharifs, he claimed Nawaz was facing the trial in the case in which he was not even nominated. He said Nawaz Sharif appeared before the accountability courts many times. He said he had no hope for justice to Nawaz Sharif from the accountability court.
Ahsan Iqbal also strongly criticized PTI Chairman Imran Khan who called him “naïve” and “inexperienced”. He said Khan took U-turn twice in the matter of caretaker CM.He claimed the entire nation had been running the election campaign of PML-N.
In a separate case, the LHC sentenced four persons, including a former PML-N MNA, to one-month jail along with fine of Rs100,000 for taking out an anti-judiciary rally in Kasur.
The convicts – ex-MNA Sheikh Waseem Akhtar, former vice-chairman of a union council Ahmad Latif, Jamil Khan and Nasir Khan – were arrested by police as they came out of the courtroom. The full bench, led by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, however exonerated former Nawaz League MPA Naeem Safdar and former municipal chairman Ayaz Khan of the contempt charges. On his way to jail in police custody, Waseem Akhtar told the reporters that he would challenge his conviction. He said his son would contest upcoming general election as his conviction has automatically rendered him disqualified for five years.
During the hearing, all the convicts denied the charges and tendered unconditional apology before the LHC bench but it failed to save them.
A video went viral on the social media in April showing the convicts taking out a rally in Kasur and using derogatory remarks against the judges of the superior courts.
The police booked 80 persons including MNA Wasim and MPA Naeem in the case under Section 166, 506, 341, 228, 109, 147 and 149 of Pakistan Penal Code and inserted Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act.
Kasur Bar Association President Mian Naseem and others filed the petition submitting that the protest in was a planned conspiracy against the institution of judiciary.
He alleged that the rally was led by the PML-N lawmakers while some office bearers of different union councils belonging to Nawaz League also accompanied them.
The bar leader said that by doing so the protestors committed contempt of court and therefore they must be punished. He prayed to the court to declare the parliamentarians disqualified and proceed against them in accordance with the law.
The same bench also took up the matter of contemptuous statement by former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal against Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar. Ahsan submitted written reply before the bench through his counsel Azam Nazir Tarar but the bench rejected the same. The court found that the ex-minister had not used word “apology’ in his reply, and observed that he (Ahsan) was just tendering verbal apology”. On it, Azam Nazir Tarar, his counsel, made a request to the bench for more time to make necessary amendment in his reply which the court accepted and put off further hearing until July 2.
Moreover, after conclusion of the parties’ arguments, a LHC full bench led by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan reserved verdict on two appeals that sought conflicting remedies in Model Town carnage of June 17, 2014 which claimed lives of more than 14 people and left 85 others injured.
First appeal was moved by Pakistan Awami Tehreek against exclusion of 11 PML-N leaders including disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former Punjab CM Rana Sana Ullah and others from trial of Anti-Terrorism Court on private complaint of Minhajul Quran administrator Jawad Hamid. The second appeal was filed by former IGP Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera against his trial along with other 127 officials by the same anti-terrorism court for their alleged role in Model Town killings. Last week, a national accountability court also allowed 14-day physical remand of former chairman and former chief executive officer of Punjab Saaf Pani Company Raja Qamarul Islam and Waseem Ajmal.
In Ashiyana case, the NAB has filed 11-volume reference against former LDA DG Ahad Khan Cheema and five others. Cheema is on judicial remand after completing 90-day physical remand in NAB’s custody. The hearing of the case is due on July 4.
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