LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other respondents to submit replies to a petition questioning process of the scrutiny of candidates for upcoming Senate elections.

Justice Shahid Karim took up the case filed by Advocate Azhar Siddique challenging scrutiny of nomination papers filed by Shaheen Khalid Butt, Rana Maqbool, Sadia Abbasi, Nuzhat Sadiq, Mushahid Hussain, Zubair Gull, Ahmad Saeed Kirmani and Hafiz Abdul Karim of the PML-N and Chaudhry Sarwar of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Siddique alleged that ‘malafide amendments’ were introduced through Election Act 2017 to protect defaulters, corrupt people as well as those having dual nationality. He stated that on Oct 2, 2017, the parliament passed the impugned Election Act 2017 and omitted clauses relating to several declarations required in nomination papers for the contesting candidates.

The lawyer pointed out columns, which had earlier been introduced related to loan defaults/loan write–offs, assets, dual nationality, non-payment of utility charges, land revenue record for the last three assessment/financial years. Income tax paid by the candidates had been deleted from the nomination paper under the impugned act, he said.

He also submitted that the essential details of the candidates should be provided in the columns of the nomination papers but all the parties ensured non-disclosure of such details which showed malafide intention on their part.  The petitioner said that complete and vital information was required from the contesting candidates while non-provision of that vital information was violation of the Constitution. They were bound to provide information about payment of taxes and loans not paid or waived off.

He alleged that the impugned Election Act, 2017 provided cover to the parties and their candidates as the scrutiny process was ‘defective’, and it was not as required by Article 62 and Article 63 of the Constitution. Therefore, he pleaded to the court, it would be against the spirit of the Constitution if the Senate election was held under the impugned law and it would also cause damage to the sanctity and legality of the election. He prayed to the court to stay the upcoming election of the upper house till repeal of the errors in the Election Act, 2017.

After hearing arguments of the petitioner’s counsel, Justice Karim issued notices to the respondents and adjourned hearing until Feb 20.