ISLAMABAD - A candidate is not disqualified to contest election merely because a criminal case is pending against him, said the apex court in its judgment on NA-89 yesterday.

The court set aside the verdict of an election tribunal and restored the membership of PML-N MNA Sheikh Muhammad Akram. He was elected in the general elections 2013, obtaining 75,053 votes out of total votes (168,551) polled in NA-89.

His opponent Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi who got 72,320 votes had challenged the victory of Akram in the election tribunal. The tribunal de-seated the PML-N lawmaker and announced Ludhianvi as a winner.

The tribunal had de-seated Akram on two grounds. First, he did not disclose in his nomination papers that a criminal case was pending against him. Secondly, there were discrepancies in the particulars of the person who seconded his nomination.

The judgment, authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, said, the case against Sh Akram was that owing to his rash driving, the complainant (Ludhianvi) had been injured. The complainant, however, resiled from his own complaint and the appellant was acquitted.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, after hearing the arguments of counsels from both the parties, reserved the judgment on 8th December, 2015, on the appeal of PML-N lawmaker Sh Akram against the verdict of the election tribunal.

The judgment questioned: “Will the non-disclosure of this case, lodged under sections 337-F read with Section 279 of PPC, be detrimental to the candidature of the appellant?” It said no one objected to the appellant’s candidature when he filed his nomination papers. “If such an objection had been taken, the appellant would have provided the requisite information of the criminal case as required by paragraph 4 of the nomination form,” it added.

The court observed that voters of NA-89 had elected Sh Akram and he could not be de-seated just because a criminal case, being a traffic violation, was pending against him. Secondly, the complainant of the case resiled from his own complaint as a result of which the appellant was acquitted.

Regarding discrepancies in the particulars of the seconder, the court noted that it was not the case of the contesting respondents, nor had it been so established that the seconder was not a registered voter of the constituency from which Sh Akram was a candidate.

Since the seconder was a voter of the constituency from where Akram contested the election, the nomination papers submitted by him were valid.