ISLAMABAD -  Registrar office of the Islamabad High Court Monday fixed a writ petition challenging the election schedule for by-polls in NA-154 (Lodhran-1) for hearing on Wednesday.

The IHC registrar office fixed the petition after petitioner Shahid Orakzai removed the objections raised by the office over the petition.

The petition was filed by Shahid Orakzai in person and made secretary Election Commission of Pakistan as respondent.

In the petition, he raised some points of law including whether polling in a bye-election to a vacant seat of the National Assembly can be held in the ‘one hundred and twenty days’ mentioned in clause (4) of Article 224 and whether the Constitution permits federal expenditure on a bye-election if the returned candidate cannot take seat or make oath under Article 64?

He adopted that this writ petition against holding of bye-election in NA-154 (Lodhran-1) primarily seeks to prevent unnecessary expenditure thereon. It does not have any political consideration whatsoever.

He added that attention is first drawn to the last bye-election in NA-120 (Lahore) which was questioned before this high court on somewhat similar grounds. “That constituency, more than 100-days after the polling, is yet to be represented in the National Assembly,” maintained the petitioner.

Orakzai maintained that the federal expenditures thereon have proven to be utter wastage of public money. He said that there is absolutely no urgency in filling the vacant seat as laid down in Article 224 and the petitioner shall, accordingly, explain the follow provision of the Constitution in relation to the bye-election.

He contended that the last election in NA-154 was not questioned through an election petition under Article 225. There was no dispute about the polling that could logically necessitate a bye-election or at the minimum a re-polling.

He argued that by Article 67, the National Assembly “shall have power to act notwithstanding any vacancy in the membership thereof.” A single vacant seat, at the moment, does not create any vacuum in the assembly or the federal cabinet.

Petitioner continued that the disqualified member does have the legal right to seek review under Article 188 and could be restored. The scheduled bye-election, would be null and void then eventually.

He said that the disqualification did not result from any election dispute after the last bye-election in the same constituency nor did the looser therein challenging the result thereof. “Any election dispute when decided by the Supreme Court, does necessitate re-election. As such there was no request made to the Supreme Court to order a re-election in NA-154. No other candidate who had contested the election from NA-154 was a party to the case before the Supreme Court which was ruled under Article 184(3),” added the petitioner.

“By Article 54, the assembly can have a time break of 120-days between its two sessions. When that period is added to the polling date i.e February 12 the assembly may have a session in June, 2018 whereas the term of the assembly expires on May 31, 2018,” maintained Shahid.

He added that in short, the returned candidate from Lodhran may not be able to take his seat in the assembly and make oath as it is the current position in NA-120.

Therefore, in view of the above, he prayed to the court to suspend the election schedule and instruct the ECP to withhold the process until the ruling on this writ petition. He further requested the court to declare that election schedule was drawn in breach of clause (4) of Article 224 and for all practical purposes, violates the time line given therein.

The petitioner also requested to declare that bye-election is unnecessary in the eyes of the Constitution and does not warrant any federal expenditure.

 

 

 

SHAHID RAO