LAHORE: The Lahore High Court yesterday dismissed appeals challenging candidatures of former National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Mohsin Latif of PML-N, Aleem Khan and Shoaib Siddique of PTI for upcoming by-election of NA-122.

A two-judge appellate bench headed by Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa passed the order after hearing lawyers of both sides.

 PPP leader Barrister Amir, Pakistan Justice Party chairman Advocate Munsif Awan, Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Advocate Ishtiaq Ahmad Chaudhary, Hafiz Talha and others had filed the appeals against the decisions of the returning officers regarding the acceptance of nomination papers of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Aleem Khan and others. for upcoming by-electin of NA-122.

 Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N, Aleem Khan of PTI and the appellants namely Advocate Munsif Awan of PJP and Advocate Ishtiaq Chaudhary were the candidates for by-poll election of NA-122  while Mohsin Latif of PML-N and Shoaib Siddique of PTI were candidates for PP-147 which falls under NA-122.  

During the course of arguments, Advocate Maqsooma Zahra Bukhari, the counsel of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, opposed the allegations of appellants against her client saying that they had submitted their nomination papers on Sept 14 while Sept 15 was the day to file objection against the papers but nobody could file objection against it and the time passed.

Justice Party’ objection that they could not show their assets was wrong, as the appellant could not establish it neither before the returning officer nor before the appellate forum that what the assts her client had, she argued. She argued that election tribunal did not convict Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and neither had he imposed fine on him; it was a simple cost which falls under the civil law.

If someone is imposed a fine then the petitioner party files execution application to apply that fine on the other party, she contended. Maqsooma also pointed out that the Sardar Ayaz Sadiq also did not enjoy any protocol after the tribunal’s order. She also opposed the allegations of foreign tours against her client saying that he once traveled to Germany in official capacity which was also approved by the PM Secretariat. And if he had been declared disqualified they would have challenged it before the court of competent jurisdiction.

The counsel of Mohsin Latif said that the tribunal’s order did not mention that his client committed rigging in the constituency rather it put liability over the polling staff who failed to conduct fair election.

“The allegations that the development projects were being executed in the constituency concerned were also baseless,” he said arguing that because they were started in the previous regime and still were continued. The counsel of Aleem Khan also rejected the allegations leveled against his client.

 He argued that there was no case pending against Aleem Khan for the last six months. Aleem Khan had never been involved in land grapping and illegal occupation of properties. The SC had also declared him innocent in Vision Developer case, he argued. He also submitted that the returning officer accepted his nomination papers and did not raise any question about his character when he appeared before to submit his nomination papers. Similarly, Shoaib Siddique’s counsel contended that the appellants could not come up with any solid evidence against his client and simply wanted to destroy his political career. He requested the bench to dismiss the appeals. 

Earlier, Barrister Amir of PPP, Munsif Awan of Pakistan Justice Party had argued that Sardar Ayaz Sadiq did not qualify to contest election because he had been convicted and had also been imposed fine. Hafiz Talha had challenged the candidature of Aleem Khan that he had been involved in many cases and a number of cases were pending against him in different courts.  

The appellants prayed the court to set aside the decision of the returning officer and bar the respondents from contesting election as they did not meet the criteria set by Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution. 

After hearing both sides, the appellate bench headed by Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa dismissed the appeals.