LAHORE - Four petitions – the first against former premier Nawaz Sharif over his alleged speeches against the SC judges, the second challenging appointment of Najam Sethi as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, the third seeking permission for the PAT sit-in on The Mall and the fourth against an increase in sugar prices – remained prominent at the Lahore High Court last week.

The LHC decided all these petitions, but maintainability of a petition seeking disqualification of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has yet to be decided. The court has reserved the verdict on maintainability of this petition.

In the first petition, the petitioner pleaded before the Lahore High Court that Nawaz Sharif used contemptuous language against judges of the Supreme Court and committed contempt of court. He said that Nawaz incited people against the judiciary.

The petitioner asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the former premier for committing contempt of court. A federal law officer appeared before the court. He opposed the petition, saying that any plea related to contempt of the Supreme Court could not be filed in the Lahore High Court. He said therefore it was not maintainable. He prayed that the petition should be dismissed for being not maintainable. After hearing both sides, Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh dismissed the plea.

Another petition, which was dismissed by the LHC, was filed against appointment of Najam Sethi as PCB chairman. It questioned his nomination as member of the Board of Governors (BoG) of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Naheed Baig, a lawyer, argued that election of Najam Sethi was conducted in violation of the board Constitution and rules. She said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, being patron of the PCB, violated the rules by nominating Sethi and Arif Ijaz to the BoG much earlier than dissolution of the previous board. She said the respondent (Sethi) was elected new chairman before expiry of the term of his predecessor, Shaharyar Khan. She asked the court to declare Sethi’s appointment as null and void and restrain him from performing his duties as chairman.

However, the counsel for the PCB objected to maintainability of the petition, calling it a publicity stunt. He said the patron had the power to nominate any person to the BoG. He said that election of the chairman was not conducted by Najam Sethi. An election commissioner consisting of Justice (r) Afzal Haider, duly appointed by the patron, conducted the election. The court dismissed the petition for being not maintainable.

The third petition, which was rejected by the Lahore High Court last week, was filed against a sharp increase in sugar prices. Lawyer-petitioner Obaidullah Kalyar moved the petition, submitting that sugar mill owners had created an artificial shortage of the commodity in the market due to which prices of sugar had increased from Rs45 to Rs78. He alleged that sugar mills had stocks and there was no shortage of sugar in the country.

These were the mill owners who were creating the shortage to mint money. Capitalists, political personalities and government officials were doing so with the support of each other. He requested the court to order the government authorities to take action against hoarders. After hearing arguments of petitioner’s counsel, Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah observed that it was not responsibility of the courts to fix prices of sugar in the country. He dismissed the petition for not being maintainable.

Also, three constitutional petitions – one involving inquiry report on the Model Town incident in which at least 14 people were shot dead by police, the second against possible amendments to Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution and the third against candidature of PML-N leader Kalsoom Nawaz who is going to contest the by-election in the NA-120 constituency – were instituted in the Lahore Registry of the Supreme Court and Lahore High Court, respectively, last week.

Sheraz Zaka, an eminent lawyer, moved the Supreme Court seeking orders for registrar of the Lahore High Court to release the report of an inquiry conducted by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi into the 2014 Model Town incident wherein 14 workers of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) lost their lives and 100 others got injured.

The petitioner said prima facie the only reasons for not disclosing the inquiry commission’s report were apprehensions, which were remote and far-fetched. He stated that a larger bench of the LHC had already received a number of petitions demanding that the Punjab government make the inquiry report public.

He pleaded that Article 19 of the Constitution provides right to freedom of speech and expression and people have the right to know whatever has been written in the inquiry report. He contended that the report should be made public and its recommendations would obviously result in improving the governance mechanism of the entire Punjab province. He requested the Supreme Court to direct the LHC registrar to make the inquiry commission report public on the website of the high court.

Another petition was moved to the Lahore High Court against possible amendments to Articles 62 and 63 of the Constriction, which deals with qualification and disqualification of members of parliament.

Advocate Rana Ilmuddin Ghazi filed the petition, pleading that the PML-N led government was planning to amend the provisions with the support of other political parties after disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister by the Supreme Court under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. The lawyer said that Article 62(1)(f) carries a condition of being righteous and sagacious for public office holders, which is in compliance with the Islamic injunctions. He argued that the parliament could not make changes to the Constitution contrary to the Islamic laws. He asked the court to restrain the parliament from making any amendments to Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

Moreover, after the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) also filed appeals to the election tribunal challenging acceptance of PML-N candidate Kalsoom Nawaz’s nomination papers by the returning officer for the by-election in NA-120. The appeals were filed by PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid and Andleeb Abbas and PPP candidate Faisal Mir on identical grounds.

The appellants, who are also contesting by-elections in the NA-120 constituency, argued that the returning officer accepted the nomination papers of Kalsoom without addressing many important queries involving concealment of assets, default on wealth and agricultural income tax and agreement/salary behind UAE iqama (work permit) by the candidate of PML-N.

They said the income tax return for year 2014 submitted by the respondent did not show any salary as deputy chairman of the FZE Company, detected by the Joint Investigation Team made by the Supreme Court in Panama Papers case. They also questioned acceptance of Kalsoom’s papers in her absence, as she did not appear before the returning officer during the scrutiny process. They alleged that the respondent candidate did not disclose in nomination papers the offshore assets and companies owned by her spouse, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. They argued that the PML-N could not participate in elections as it was registered in the name of Nawaz Sharif who had been disqualified by the Supreme Court.

They said that Kalsoom was neither qualified to contest an election under provisions of Article 62 of the Constitution nor her nomination papers met requirements of Representation of People’s Act 1976. They prayed to the tribunal to set aside the decision of the returning officer and reject nomination of Kalsoom.

A two-member election tribunal consisting of Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh and Justice Shahid Waheed of the Lahore High Court would resume hearing on the appeals on Aug 21(today).