An election tribunal rejected on Friday the appeal filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Hasnain Ali Chohan challenging the eligibility of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Miftah Ismail to contest for the NA-249 seat in the upcoming by-polls.
The National Assembly seat from Karachi's district West fell vacant when PTI leader Faisal Vawda resigned shortly before being elected as senator in March 2021.
A single-member bench of the Sindh High Court, comprising Justice Muhammad Faisal Kamal Alam, was hearing the Chohan's plea challenging Ismail's candidature on the basis of allegedly concealing his assets, including luxury vehicles, in his nomination papers.
Arguing his case, Chohan counsel appealed to the court to reject Ismail's nomination papers and declare him ineligible to contest in the by-polls.
The tribunal said that the matter of disqualification is different. "Is the opponent candidate bankrupt?" asked Justice Alam. He further inquired whether Ismail was punished for hiding assets.
The petitioner's counsel contended that Ismail gifted his wife an item worth Rs35 million but disclosed the value as Rs10 million in the affidavit submitted before the Election Commission of Pakistan.
"Did the Federal Board of Revenue serve any notice to Ismail for hiding assets?" questioned Justice Alam again. "Your case might be strong, but the tribunal cannot inspect these matters prior to the election."
At this, the counsel maintaisinned that instead of inspecting Ismail's papers, the returning officer simply stamped his approval.
As Chohan's arguments concluded, Ismail's counsel maintained that his client did not hide any facts in the affidavit filed with the nomination papers for the by-polls.
The PML-N leader's counsel contended that Chohan's arguments were based on assumptions. "Are any vehicles registered in my client's name? Allegations against my client have been leveled based on assumptions. My client and his wife declared all their assets on the record.
Are there any contradictions between assets and tax returns of my client? The affidavit mentions Rs8 million worth of jewellery."
Following this, Justice Alam asked Ismail's counsel: "Is there any vehicle registered under your client's name?"
On which the lawyer said: "My client has no vehicle”.
This prompted Justice Alam to inquire whether the former finance minister travelled using public transport.
Ismail's counsel replied that his client travelled using other people's vehicles as he did not have the financial standing to own one.
"If anyone has record of any vehicle owned by Ismail, please present it," the counsel said, adding that his client did not take any bank loan and the petitioner has failed to prove any allegation against his client.
After the completion of arguments, the election tribunal rejected the PTI leader's appeal and declared Ismail eligible to contest the by-elections for NA-249.
The same bench rejected a petition filed against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Qadir Khan Mandokhel's eligibility to contest the by-election.
During the hearing, the Law Officer of the Election Commission took the position that the petitioner, Mohsin Abbas, did not appear at the time of scrutiny.
The Returning Officer had rejected the objections of Mohsin Abbas, the court was informed.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ