LHC dismisses Sheikh Rasheed’s plea, upholds ECP’s decision on NA-60 polls

ISLAMABAD: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday rejected Sheikh Rasheed’s plea challenging Election Commission’s order of postponing polls in NA-60 Rawalpindi following sentence of life imprisonment of PML-N candidate Hanif Abbasi.

The Awami Muslim League chief challenged the ECP order in Rawalpindi Bench of the LHC and the Supreme Court.

Justice Mujahid Mustakeem of Rawalpindi bench upheld the election commission’s decision regarding postponement of the elections in NA-60.

“Our petition has been rejected by the high court. We will go to the Supreme Court tomorrow,” Rasheed’s lawyer told Geo TV.

Sheikh Rasheed said that his party was full prepared to contest the election in the Rawalpindi constituency.

Earlier in the day, Sheikh Rasheed said postponement of election was unconstitutional and illegal as ECP did not postpone the election in Lahore and Manshera after the disqualification of Maryam Nawaz and Capt (R) Safdar.

The Pakistan Peoples’ Party also challenged the ECP order in Islamabad High Court.

The ECP Sunday notified postponement of the election in this constituency of Rawalpindi.

The commission said that while preparations for the general elections were in their final stages and ballot papers for the constituency were already printed with Hanif Abbasi’s election symbol on them, the ECP is bound to provide a level playing field to all candidates. It said the election in NA-60 is postponed and will be conducted after the scheduled general elections, along with other postponed elections.

Hanif Abbasi was contesting the election mainly against the Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed from NA-60. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) did not have a covering candidate in the constituency. Sheikh Rasheed enjoys full support of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as well.

“Whereas only two days are left to the conduct of the elections, when Hanif Abbasi, a potential candidate from NA-60 has been disqualified, which has resulted into a heated debate in the media and political circles rendering the atmosphere as full and negativelycharged and; whereas the serious criticism is afloat qua the provision of level-playing field in the general election…and whereas the Election Commission of Pakistan, having taken cognisance of all attending circumstances is bound to provide a level playing field to the contestants under the Constitution and the law, particularly the Section 4 of the Elections Act, 2017 read with Article 218(3) of the Constitution and the powers of the Election Commission defined by the August Supreme Court of Pakistan in famous Workers Party case…”, the notification says.

It is pertinent to mention that the law provides for postponement of election in case of death of a candidate. Section 73 of the Elections Act, 2017, says that “if a contesting candidate dies before commencement of the poll or during the polling hours, the returning officer shall, by public notice, terminate the proceedings relating to that election”.

Under this law, polls have been also delayed in PS-87 Malir, following death of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan candidate Sharif Ahmed Khan in a road accident, PK-78 Peshawar after death of Awami National Party (ANP) candidate Haroon Bilour in a suicide attack and NA-103 and PP-103 constituencies of Peshawar due to death of independent candidate Mirza Mughal.

Elections were also delayed in PB-35 Mastung after a terrorist attack, which claimed at least 149 lives including that of Balochistan Awami Party candidate Siraj Raisani.(Thenews)