LAHORE  - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to submit reply to a petition along with a copy of the impugned decision on a petition moved by PTI candidate Nasir Cheema against his disqualification to contest the election in PP-53, Gujranwala.

A division bench consisting of Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi was hearing the case.  The Election Commission of Pakistan had disqualified Nasir Cheema for using pictures of Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa in his election campaign. Barrister Khalid Ishaq appeared on behalf of the petitioner arguing that the objectionable banners on the basis of which the ECP disqualified the petitioner were before the announcement of the election code. He said the ECP announced its electoral code on June 14 whereas the banners having pictures of the chief justice and army chief were already in display during the month of April.

He also contended that no complaint had been lodged against his client before the commission while the impugned decision by the ECP had not referred to any law invoked for his disqualification.

The counsel prayed to the court to set aside the disqualification decision by the ECP and allow his client to contest the upcoming general election. However, the ECP’s lawyer Imran Ranjha opposed the petition, stating that Nasir Cheema violated the electoral code of conduct. He said the ECP’s decision about disqualification of the petitioner was lawful. Therefore, he said, the petition be dismissed.

After hearing both sides, the bench issued notice to the ECP and adjourned further hearing till Tuesday (today).

In a separate case against illegal buildings inside Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA, the LHC ordered renovation of the poor residential buildings in the area, with directives to Finance department to release the funds for this purpose.

Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi was hearing the case who fixed July 22 for the renovation of the buildings inside the area.

Chairman of planning and development department Habib Gillani and other officials of the government also appeared before the court.   Gillani requested the court to give three-week time for release of funds but Justice Qureshi rejected his plea and ordered the finance department to release the funds by July 20.

Taking up another case about alleged encroachment upon the land of Bibi Pakdaman shrine, Justice Qureshi sought report from Punjab Auqaf department.

A local citizen had moved the petition that about 72 kanal land of the shrine had been occupied by the citizens; buildings and shops had been build on it.  The land, he said, belonged to the shrine but no action was taken by the provincial auqaf department in this regard.  He asked the court to order the Punjab Auqaf department to recover the shrine’ land from the respondents who he said had taken it illegally.

Vehicles for polling day:  Justice Ali Baqar Najfi of the Lahore High Court Monday barred Punjab interim government and other departments from taking private vehicles of the petitioner-transporters to use them on election day.

Big Way and other private transport companies filed the petitions stating that their vehicles were being impounded by the government department to transport the polling staff. The petitioners’ counsels said they did not fall within the definition of public transport but supplied transport services to the employees of private institutions and industries.

 They said if the government was not barred from capturing the vehicles of the petitioners a number of private industries would suffer a lot. They prayed to the court to bar the government from impounding their vehicles and also order immediate release of the seized vehicles.  The court would resume hearing on Tuesday (today).

Police election training

City police department on Monday launched a training session to educate field officers and officials about the security of polling stations.

According to a police spokesman, SP (Headquarters) Atif Nazir and DSP Farhat Abbas supervised the training session. All station house officers of Iqbal Town and Civil Lines police divisions attended the session in addition to more than 120 upper and lower subordinates.

During the session, the field officers were given training and awareness about the use of Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless sets. Several experts from the Punjab Safe City Authority attended the session and imparted training to the policemen about the technical matters related to LTE wireless sets.  

Police officials say they believe the use of LTE wireless sets will be very useful on the polling day. The volunteers will also be given training about the election matters in the next phase, officials said.