SHC issues notices to ECP, others over Vawda’s plea

Seeks progress report of investigation into Chinese citizen's murder


Our Correspondent March 10, 2021
PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) issues notices on Tuesday to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the federal government and other parties, seeking their replies on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and recently elected senator, Faisal Vawda's, plea challenging the ECP's decision pertaining to his disqualification.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Amjad Ali Sahito, was hearing the plea.

At the hearing, the counsel for Vawda, Barrister Moiz Ahmed, presented his arguments and moved the court to issue a stay order barring the ECP from disqualifying his client.

Vawda had also challenged the ECP's decision of February 24, but the ECP had rejected his appeal, the lawyer said, contending that the ECP did not have the authority to hear complaints against Vawda. However, he added, the objection to the ECP hearing complaints against the PTI leader was also rejected.

Read: Can’t disqualify Faisal Vawda after resignation: IHC

The counsel prayed the court to declare that the ECP was not authorised to hear complaints against Vawda.

Following that, Justice Sahito stated that the Islamabad High Court's (IHC) ruling in a case pertaining to Vawda's disqualification needed to be perused.

He further questioned the lawyer, "What is Vawda's issue with the ECP when he is no longer a member of the National Assembly?"

At that, the counsel said they were concerned that the PTI leader might be declared ineligible for life.

Moreover, he contended, the IHC order does not have any connection with the case being heard.

"Here, we have only objected to the ECP hearing cases against Vawda," he argued.

When the court inquired who had filed complaints against Vawda, the counsel named Pakistan Peoples Party leader Qadir Mandokhel and others.

The court stated that it could not restrict the ECP on the matter as of now.

"How can the SHC hear cases against the ECP?" the court remarked.

In response, the counsel contended that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Shehbaz Sharif had filed a plea challenging the general election results in the SHC, and therefore the court could bar the ECP from hearing disqualification cases against Vawda.

Directing the counsel to inform the ECP that the court had issued notices on the plea, the court sought the IHC order.

The counsel assured the court of submitting the court.

Besides, the court directed the parties to submit their replies on the plea by March 16.

On March 7, the IHC had ruled that Vawda was an American national when he filed his nomination papers in 2018, and was therefore ineligible to contest the elections then as a dual national. The court had issued its detailed order on the disqualification case that had, on March 3, been disposed of after Vawda submitted his resignation from the National Assembly.

Chinese citizen murder case

Meanwhile, another bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Shamsuddin Abbasi, sought a progress report from the investigation officer (IO) of the murder case of a Chinese citizen, Shen Zhou, on a plea seeking the removal of the names of three persons accused in the case from the Exit Control List.

At the hearing, the court inquired about the progress of the investigation from the IO.

In reply, the IO stated that it was a very "sensitive" case.

Read more: ECP orders inclusion of PTI MPs in Ali Gilani video case

That irked the court, which then remarked, "What do you mean? If a matter is sensitive, you would not investigate it?"

"A person died and you are talking about the sensitivity of the case," Justice Kalhoro rebuked him. "Explain to us why you used the word sensitive."

At that, the IO pleaded with the court not to remove the accused persons' names from the no-fly list until the investigation was completed.

The court directed the IO to submit a progress report by April 20.

The plea was filed by accused Saqib, Rehan Hashim and Aamir Khan.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2021.

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