ISLAMABAD    -   The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking removal of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz as vice president of the party.

The Commission ruled that she was eligible to hold the position.

Headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan a three-member bench heard the petition.

The petition against Maryam Nawaz was filed by PTI lawmakers Farrukh Habib, Maleeka Bokhari, Kanwal Shauzab and Javeria Zafar.

The Commission said in a written verdict that Maryam cannot hold the party position as acting president and that she should not accept any functional party position.

Announcing the judgment, CEC rejected the petition and allowed Maryam Nawaz to retain the party position with the condition that she would not exercise powers of PML-N’s acting president till completion of her conviction term.

While reacting to the decision PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said challenging party post of Maryam Nawaz was nothing but an act of cheap publicity.

She said any party post was not important for Maryam Nawaz as she wanted to serve the people.

However, Maryam’s lawyer Barrister Zafarullah said there was no such condition in Pakistani law that restricted an individual from holding a party position.

While speaking to the media, he said Maryam will remain vice president of PML-N as the ECP had dismissed the petition of the ruling party.

PML-N senior leader Raja Zafarul Haq while reacting to the decision said that it was a historical decision of the commission. He said still there were some institutions which were expected to provide justice to the people.

Earlier, PTI lawmakers in their petition contended that Maryam was not able to hold any party position as she was convicted by a court of law on July 6, 2018, in a corruption case (Avenfield reference), filed by NAB. The ECP had reserved its verdict twice asking the counsels from both sides to assist it on whether or not the bar on a convict from holding office of the president of a political party as per the judgment of the Supreme Court can apply to any other party official.

Petitioners’ lawyer Hassan Maan on Monday had said that Section 203 of the Elections Act should be read with Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. He had said that a PTI lawmaker from Punjab had lost his party position on the basis of the same principle.

In his reply the PML-N lawyer argued that some political parties were headed by their presidents while others were headed by chairmen or emirs.

He said the Supreme Court’s judgment also specifically mentioned party heads and asked the ECP to dismiss the petition filed by the PTI lawmakers.

Following Maryam’s appointment as PML-N vice president on May 3, PTI lawmakers had challenged her appointment in the ECP contending that she could not hold any party position as she was convicted by a court of law on July 6, 2018.

Maryam Nawaz had requested the Commission to dismiss the plea as there was no ban on the convicted person to hold any party position.

On the other hand the petitioner and PTI legislator Barrister Maleeka Bokhari argued ECP decision is contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court in the Zulfiqar Bhutta Case PLD 2018 SC 370.

She said they were also of the view that the Zulfiqar Bhutta Case was not contrary to the decision of the Larger Bench of Supreme Court in the Benazir Bhutto Case PLD 1988 SC 416.

“Therefore, we reserve our right to challenge today’s ECP decision before the competent forum,” she said

She said according to the ECP, the post of Vice President in PML-N is a non-functional post which means Maryam Nawaz as Vice President of PML-N cannot hold any jalsa or liaise with any other political party or enter into any “function” with regard to her party.