Election Act: LHC CJ says voters free to pick defaulter or disqualified person

  • PAT and other petitioners have challenged Election bill, which paves way for Nawaz Sharif to head PML-N

LAHORE – Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah has remarked that voters are completely free under the Constitution to choose person whether a defaulter or a disqualified persons.

The remarks came while hearing multiple petitions filed by Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and others against the controversial parts of Elections Act, 2017 – Section 203 and 232 – which paved way for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to head his party PML-N despite his disqualification by the Supreme Court in Panamagate case.

The petitioners also sought orders from the court restraining ECP from issuing notification of Sharif as president of the PML-N.

Dawn News quoted the chief justice as saying, “The verdict of voters is always supreme in any democratic system”.

The petitoner’s counsel Ishtiaq Ahmad Chaudhry argued that these amendments were introduced with malafide intentions and to benefit a single person by crossing the ethical values. He urged the court to remove such alteration in the Election Act.

In reply, the chief justice said that every citizen has right to set up a party under Article 17, adding that there is now law that bars a defaulter or disqualified person from doing it.

He further said that the court settled matters under the law not on moral grounds.

However, the counsel said that such laws should be passed after judicial review, adding that such acts could be exploited by terrorists or miscreants to form political parties.

In response, the judge suggested the counsel to raise the issue in parliament instead of forcing courts to take up matters on ethical values.

On the other hand, Deputy Attorney General Nasar Mirza asked the court to dismiss the case as identical petitions were pending before the Supreme Court.

However, the petitioners’ lawyers has sought time for preparation; therefore, the case has been adjourned until November 14.