ECP issues schedule for by-polls on Tareen’s seat

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday announced the schedule for by-polls in NA-154, Lodhran constituency of National Assembly, which fell vacant after the disqualification of Jehangir Tareen by the Supreme Court.

According to the notification issued today, candidates will be able to file nomination papers from December 26-28, while the list of candidates will be published on January 16, 2018, after the completion of scrutiny of nomination papers on January 5.

The polls will be held on February 12.

The apex court had disqualified Tareen for not declaring an offshore company in his nomination papers. He later resigned as secretary general of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The bench found Tareen to be dishonest under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and Section 99 of Representation of People Act (ROPA) on one count among the multiple charges brought against him.

Article 62(1)(f) — which sets the precondition for the head of government to be “Sadiq and Ameen” (truthful and honest) — had led to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif in the July 28 judgment in Panama Papers case.

Tareen was declared “dishonest” for concealing his property in London. The bench observed that he deliberately lied to the court regarding his offshore company.

“The respondent [Tareen] is disqualified… for the non-declaration of his property/asset i.e. ‘Hyde House’ in his nomination papers, and in making untrue statement before this Court, that he has no beneficial interest in SVL [offshore company]; therefore, he should cease to hold the office as the member of the National Assembly with immediate effect,” read the judgment.

About insider trading, the verdict said that Tareen may have committed this offence but he could not be judged for having committed a crime because of the terms of his settlement with the Securities and Exchange Corporation of Pakistan (SECP).

The court also stated that the matter had been closed by the SECP after Tareen paid a fine, and so it could not be used as a ground to disqualify him.

On the matter of alleged misrepresentation and short payment of agricultural income tax by the PTI leader, the court said it would not issue a declaration on it because the matter was currently sub judice in multiple courts.

The court also said it was not convinced that Tareen had been involved in acquiring loans and having them written off for his benefit, which would have demonstrated dishonesty.

It noted that the loans acquired by FPML allegedly written off by Tareen were actually written off in 2010, before the accused was even a shareholder or director of the company. Therefore, he could not be held responsible for it.

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