ISLAMABAD - Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) yesterday de-notified PML-N’s leader Justice (retired) Iftikhar Ahmed Cheema as MNA and issued schedule for by-election in NA-101 Gujranwala.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday had disqualified the retired justice as member National Assembly for concealing his financial statements invoking Article 62 and 63 for not being true.

Following the judgment of the apex court, the ECP declared the constituency NA-101 as vacant calling upon the voters to elect another candidate from the area. Polling will be held on March 22, a day before the nation will celebrate Pakistan’s Day on March 23.

Earlier, a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali heard a petition filed by Muslim League – Junejo candidate Ahmed Chattha who had challenged the details of the financial assets of the retired justice.

Cheema who has also served as judge of Lahore High Court in 1998, was accused of hiding details of financial assets in his candidacy papers to contest the 2013 elections. Ahmed Chattha had challenged his election and moved the tribunal arguing that he was ineligible to contest the polls.

The petition stated that the PML-N lawmaker concealed details regarding his bank accounts and did not submit his income tax records from 2009 to 2013.

The PML-N candidate had returned successful from NA-101 in 2013 general elections by bagging 99,191 votes, while his opponent Ahmed Chattha, son of Hamid Nasir Chattha, had managed to get 59,878 votes.

Sources in PML-N said that the party has so far not decided whether to field Mr Cheema again on the seat in by-election or award the ticket to another candidate. They said the apex court’s judgment has resulted in tainted image of the disqualified member for making false statements despite having been served as judge in various districts of Punjab.

Though PML-J eyes to clinch the seat as the party being petitioner against the PML-N leader has set the stage for by-polls, the opposition Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) too is getting serious in making its presence felt in the constituency.

However, at this stage, the names of candidates to be fielded by political parties have not been made public. The ECP has called upon the candidates to file nomination papers between February 17 and 18.