LAHORE - A Lahore High Court (LHC) full bench on Friday issued a detailed split-judgement on petitions filed by PPP, PAT and MML against candidature of Kalsoom Nawaz for the by-election in the NA-120 constituency.

In the 14-page detailed judgement, majority of the judges dismissed the petitions against the candidature of Kalsoom Nawaz. However, Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi, in his dissenting note, allowed the petitions.

Justice Lodhi set aside the decisions of the Returning Officer and Election Tribunal regarding acceptance of nomination papers of Kalsoom Nawaz. He also termed the decisions of both Returning Officer and Election Tribunal as arbitrary and with no legal effects.

Justice Aminuddin Khan was head of the bench and Justice Shahid Jamil Khan was other member of the bench.

Justice Lodhi observed, “Examining the act of the Returning Officer on the touchstone of Constitution and Law, it is my irresistible conclusion that the Returning Officer has completely failed to perform his function in accordance with law and he has arbitrarily proceeded to accept the nomination papers of the candidate without giving any reasons and without disposal of objections raised by the petitioners as to the qualification of an aspiring candidature for the National Assembly.”

He also observed that the appellate tribunal had completely failed to take into consideration arbitrariness in the conduct of the Returning Officer when he violated provisions of Article 218 (3) of the Constitution and Section 14 of the ROPA.

“The order passed by the learned Appellate Tribunal on Sept 21 and the decision of the Returning Officer on August 18 accepting nomination papers of the candidate are result of an arbitrary exercise and having no legal effects and thus are set aside,” he said.

He held that nomination papers of the candidate and the objections raised thereon by the petitioners would be deemed to be pending before the RO who will conduct the scrutiny strictly within the meaning of Section 14 of the ROPA. Justice Lodhi also suspended the previous notification and directed the ECP to issue a fresh schedule for the whole process of election.

In the majority decision, it was held that “cases in hand are against the acceptance of nomination papers and no one is going to be disfranchised. In his view of the matter, all the above three petitions being non-competent in the light of the judgments of the Supreme Court of Pakistan referred supra stand dismissed with majority view with no order as to casts.”

PPP’s Faisal Mir, PAT’s Ishtiaq Chaudhry and Milli Muslim League’s Sheikh Yaqoob had challenged decision of the returning officer and election tribunal on acceptance of nomination papers of Kalsoom Nawaz.

PPP’s Faisal Mir and PAT’s counsel Ishtiaq Chaudhry have decided to challenge the decision of the Lahore High Court before the Supreme Court . Kalsoom, at this stage, is legally clear to contest the by-election.

The current bench was the third full bench of the highest court of the province, reconstituted after one of the members in the previous two had refused to hear the case for personal reasons. On August 30, these appeals came up for hearing before a full bench headed by Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan Khan. Justice Farrukh, due to personal reasons, declined hearing of the case, and returned it to the chief justice to constitute a new bench.

The chief justice formed another bench consisting of Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza and Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi but Justice Shams refused to hear it for personal reasons. Now, for the third time, the bench was constituted to hear the case.

All the petitioners questioned eligibility of Kalsoom Nawaz, saying that she had concealed facts and did not mention her details of shares in various companies.

Kalsoom showed herself a dependent of her husband Nawaz Sharif, however she was the share holder of many companies, the petitioners said. They alleged that Kalsoom had also failed to disclose agreement and salary for a UAE Iqama (work permit) attached to her nomination papers. He said this work permit meant Kalsoom had dual nationality and as such was not eligible to contest the election.

They said that after the Panama Papers verdict by the Supreme Court it was necessary for Kalsoom to disclose her salary as an asset. They submitted that a case was also lodged against Kalsoom in year 2000 but she did not mention it in her nomination papers.

They alleged that Kalsoom was also a defaulter of agriculture income tax and concealed details of her Murree residence. They asserted that Kalsoom could not contest election on the ticket of PML-N because that registration of the party stands cancelled since disqualification of its head, Nawaz Sharif.

The petitioners further said that Kalsoom in her nomination papers, showed herself as house wife but she was a shareholder in many companies. They requested the court to set aside the decision of the RO and reject nomination of Kalsoom Nawaz.