Only the chief election commissioner has the power to punish a candidate in an election and not a returning officer, argued Waheeda Shah’s lawyer on Thursday.
The Pakistan Peoples Party ticket holder won the by-election in Hyderabad but was declared disqualified after she slapped polling staff.
Her appeal against the decision was heard by Sindh High Court’s Justices Munib Akhtar and Aftab Ahmed Gorar.
Her lawyer, Haider Imam Rizvi, presented arguments for the second consecutive day on Thursday. He maintained that the decision made by a three-member commission was defective as it was based on the decision made by the returning officer.
Rizvi pleaded that while Shah was convicted and punished under section 100 of the Peoples’ Representation Act only the chief election commissioner had the power to punish a candidate and not a three-member commission.
He also relied on section 103-AA of the Peoples Representation Act, saying that this section did not apply in her case as the commission did not examine any material. The commission only went on the returning officer’s position, which was subsequently dismissed by the appellate forum, in this case, the district and sessions court of Hyderabad. He also raised the point of double jeopardy and said that while she was disqualified the registration of an FIR was also ordered against her.
The bench put off the hearing till Monday.
Shah’s case gained notoriety as she was caught on camera slapping polling staff in a scene that was witnessed by millions of Pakistanis on their television screens.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.