Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court yesterday sought reply from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a petition challenging the postponement of elections in NA-60 constituency of Rawalpindi.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition moved by Mukhtar Abbas, a candidate of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), from the constituency and directed the ECP to submit its response on the next hearing to be held on Tuesday (today).

The PPP candidate moved the petition through his counsel Niazullah Khan Niazi and cited Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Secretary ECP as respondents in the matter.

He stated in the petition that being a political worker of the party, he had done a lot for the welfare of inhabitants of his constituency and developed a good reputation in the area in the last five years.  The petitioner stated that after qualifying as candidate, he continued with a door-to-door election campaign and now hopes for victory in the elections.

Petitioner added that he managed a heavy expense for his election campaign within the limits prescribed by the respondents. He said that the election process had reached its final stage with only two days left before polling day, when the ECP, through a notification dated July 22, postponed elections on NA-60 due to disqualification of a candidate Hanif Abbasi who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the ANF court in Ephedrine case.

He adopted before the court that the said notification is against the law and therefore not sustainable in the eye of law. Mukhtar contended that the notification is illegal, unlawful, ineffective, arbitrary and has been passed in fanciful manners, thus is liable to be set aside being void ab-initio.

“There is no mandate to the ECP under Section 4 of the Election Act, 2017 read with Article 218(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 which empowers the ECP to postpone an election on the basis of punishment to a criminal but in the instant case, the punishment of the said criminal has been given to the petitioner and other contesting candidate,” maintained the PPP candidate.

He added that the ECP issued the notification against the law as Section 4 of the Election Act, 2017 does not confer any power or mandate to the ECP to postpone an election on the basis of punishment to a criminal candidate of any constituency while the said section has totally interpreted against its spirit as mentioned in Section 4 of Election Act, 2017.

Therefore, he prayed to the court that the said notification may be declared illegal, unlawful, arbitrary, fanciful, against the provisions of constitutions of law and the Section 4 of the Election Act 2017.

He also requested the court to issue directions to the respondents to hold the election of NA-60 Rawalpindi – IV in general elections on specified date of July 25 and not to misuse the powers and to travel beyond their authority.