High court restores Rawalpindi mayor, for now

IHC issues stay against ECP’s order to de-seat Sardar Naseem, seeks reply from poll body

Rizwan Shehzad April 29, 2017
IHC issues stay against ECP’s order to de-seat Sardar Naseem, seeks reply from poll body. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday restored Sardar Naseem as the mayor of Rawalpindi, albeit temporarily, as it suspended an order from the top poll body de-seating the mayor.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had on April 26 disqualified Rawalpindi Mayor Naseem along with 17 reserved seat members of the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) for rigging and violating the code of conduct.

The commission, which included Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Raza, Altaf Qureshi, Ghaffar Soomro, Shakil Baloch and Irshad Qaiser, announced its decision on two separate petitions.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Lubna Iqbal and PML-N’s Tahira Parveen had challenged Naseem’s elections, accusing the mayor of using his influence to rig the polls for reserved seats prior to being elected city mayor.

On Friday, Naseem’s lawyer Sardar Umar Aslam argued before the single bench of the IHC that the ECP lacked the jurisdiction to entertain petitions over qualification after the mayor had assumed his office.

Aslam contended that the relevant forum to file such petitions against the mayor was the election tribunal, not the ECP.

The counsel requested the court to set aside the ECP’s order and reinstate Naseem.

The court, however, only suspended the ECP’s order till it decides the case.

Justice Farooq also issued notices to the respondents as well as to the ECP and sought their reply.

Further hearings in the case were adjourned until the second week of May.

The ECP in its order issued on April 26 had “set aside the election of mayor and 17 members of the RMC has been void and recalls its notification dated December 28, 2016, to the extent of Mayor of RMC and notification of 17 members dated November 30, 2016, are de-notified and consequently said seats stand vacant.”

After the ECP’s verdict was released, 40 union council chairmen aligned with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz gathered at the RMC to pass a resolution expressing their confidence in the mayor. They extended their support to the mayor and said that that they would also back any re-election bid.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2017.


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