LAHORE - A full bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) constituted to hear pleas challenging candidature of Kalsoom Nawaz for by-elections in the NA-120 constituency will take up these pleas today.

This is the third full bench made by the LHC chief justice that will be headed by Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan and comprised of Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi and Justice Shahid Jameel. Earlier, two full benches were dissolved after their members refused to hear the matter due to personal reasons.

The PML-N has fielded Kalsoom Nawaz in the by-elections in NA-120 constituency. The National Assembly seat fell vacant after the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister on July 28. There are just five days for the court to decide these petitions moved by PPP leader Faisal Mir, PAT candidate Ishtiaq Chaudhry and the Milli Muslim League. The by-election in the constituency is scheduled to take place on Sept 17.

Earlier, the petitioners challenged candidature of Kalsoom in the Election Tribunal but the tribunal rejected their petitions and allowed the former first lady to contest the by-election.

On August 21, the tribunal rejected petitions of the candidate-petitioners and allowed Kalsoom to run for the National Assembly seat. The tribunal had to decide these petitions before July 24 but they were delayed. Now ballot papers are being printed and electioneering is in full swing.

On August 30, these appeals came up for hearing at a full bench headed by Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan Khan. Justice Farrukh refused to hear these petitions due to personal reasons and returned them to the chief justice. The chief justice constituted a new bench comprised of Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza and Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi.

As these appeals came up for hearing before this bench on September 6, Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza refused to take up the matter.

In latest appeal, the appellate counsel has taken the plea that Kalsoom Nawaz concealed her assets and income in the nomination papers. He stated that Kalsoom said she was dependent on her husband Nawaz Sharif and she was shareholder in many companies.

He alleged that Kalsoom failed to disclose the agreement and salary for a UAE Iqama (work permit) attached to her nomination papers. He said that this work permit means that Kalsoom had dual nationality and as such was not eligible to contest the election.

He said that after the Panama Papers verdict by the Supreme Court it was necessary for Kalsoom to disclose her salary as an asset. He submitted that a case was also lodged against Kalsoom in 2000 but she did not mention it in her nomination papers. He alleged that Kalsoom was also a defaulter on agriculture income tax and concealed details of her Murree residence. He asserted that Kalsoom could not contest election on the ticket of the PML-N, claiming that registration of the party stood cancelled after disqualification of its head, Nawaz Sharif. He said that Kalsoom in her nomination papers showed herself as a housewife but she was a shareholder in many companies. He requested the court to set aside the decision of the returning officer and reject nomination of Kalsoom. He said the RO had accepted nomination papers of Kalsoom the other day after dismissing all objections filed by the rival parties’ candidates.

Another important case that grabbed the media attention last week was contempt proceedings against Lahore High Court Bar Association Multan President Sher Zaman Qureshi. This time a five-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case.

The SC sought a detailed report from the registrar of the Lahore High Court on hooliganism by lawyers in Multan and at the principle seat of the high court and expressed the hope that a larger bench seized with contempt proceedings against a lawyers’ leader from Multan would wait for final decision of the apex court on the matter.

The courtroom No.1 at the Lahore registry was jam-packed with lawyers as the bench started its proceedings. Supreme Court Bar Association President Rasheed A Rizvi and other senior lawyers appeared on behalf of Qureshi. Present in the court, Qureshi also filed a written apology at the start of the hearing.

Rizvi said that lawyers had a great respect for the judiciary, however, Qureshi did not want to appear before a larger bench of the LHC due to unavoidable circumstances. Chief Justice Nisar observed whether the dignity of the institution of judiciary was not compromised by defying the court orders. Everyone, including the prime minister, was appearing before the court then why could not a lawyer appear before the high court, the chief justice asked?

The CJ said the dispute could have been settled at the initial stage had Qureshi appeared before the court. Rizvi argued that the Multan bar president did not misbehave a judge and he was not involved in vandalism at the court. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed if lawyers wanted to protect the justice system they should better respect orders of the courts.

 The apex court adjourned further hearing of the case till third week of October and directed the LHC registrar to submit a detailed report on the matter. After the hearing, the lawyers chanted slogans in support of Qureshi, lifted him on shoulders and showered rose petals on him.

Later, on Sept 8, the LHC also took up the matter. Advocate General of Punjab Shakilur Rehman appeared before the court with a copy of the order of the Supreme Court. The bench adjourned the case until Nov 3.

The cases of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, detention of Hafiz Saeed and a case relating to alleged corruption of billions of rupees in the Punjab SAAF Pani Company were also taken up by the LHC. In the Pervez Mushrarraf case, the court reserved its verdict on maintainability of a petition seeking action against the former president for allegedly ridiculing the judiciary and saying that the army had helped him out during treason proceedings against him.

In the Hafiz Saeed case, the LHC directed the Punjab home secretary to decide representation of detained Jamatud Dawa (Jud) chief Hafiz Saeed and his four aides and submit a report by Sept 12.

In the Punjab SAAF Pani Company case, the court asked the anti-corruption director general to appear before the court at the next hearing. It also ordered the company’s CEO to come up with the detailed report at the next hearing.

The bars were also very active during the week as they held meetings and recorded protests in favour of Rohingya Muslims.

The lawyers demanded that the government raise the issue of genocide of Burmese Muslims at the international level and play its due role for their protection.