Petition filed against Imran for contesting on nine NA seats in by-polls

Petitioner terms practice of contesting on multiple seats a waste of ECP's resources


Rana Yasif August 10, 2022
Former prime minister Imran Khan addressing a rally in Faisal on July 15, 2022. SCREENGRAB

LAHORE:

A writ petition was filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday against former prime minister Imran Khan's decision to contest by-elections on nine National Assembly seats simultaneously that fell vacant after the NA speaker had accepted the resignations of PTI lawmakers.

The petitioner Mian Asif Mehmood, who is Punjab president of the Amun Taraqqi Party, filed the plea requesting the court to restrain the PTI’s chairman from contesting the by-polls in the "large interest of the country".

He implored in the petition that it has become a lacuna to contest elections on multiple seats by the candidates in the general elections that needed to be addressed as it is a very clear case of political exploitation.

The petition stated that in the 2018 general elections, various candidates contested elections on multiple seats. "Imran Khan contested general elections 2018 on five seats simultaneously and won all the 5 seats, and later he vacated four seats and consequently the ECP had to re-poll on all four seats," it added.

Read more: Imran to contest by-elections on nine NA seats simultaneously

"Similarly, Aleem Khan contested election on more than seven seats, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari contested the said elections on three seats and many more contested in a similar manner."

The petitioner said that there may be a political logic to the decision of candidates to contest elections on multiple seats in a general election to save their faces and their constant rule in the corridors of power but legally the phenomenon is questionable.

He submitted that the cost of one individual contesting on multiple seats was significant. "If more than one seat is won by a candidate, by-polls will need to be held soon after the general elections. That is a waste of the ECP’s resources both during the general elections and after. Elections, even by-polls, cost money, require security and divert local administrations from their core duties," he added.

He contended in his petition that conducting elections is a big task and it is a highly expensive activity too as recently the Election Commission of Pakistan demanded a budget of Rs50 billion to conduct 2023 general elections. "That means approximately up to Rs200 million are estimated expenses for elections of a single constituency and this burden will be put on the public exchequer during the by-elections on vacant seats soon after the general elections."

He requested the court that Imran Khan be directed not to contest any election of the parliament before submitting his resignation as a member of the National Assembly and till the acceptance of the same.

He also sought directions from relevant quarters to amend the law in question accordingly, in light of the well-celebrated judgment of the honourable apex court of Pakistan in the case of "The jurist's Foundation vs The Federation of Pakistan constitutional Petition 39/2019 reported as PLD 2020 SC 1" to regulate the eligibility criteria of the parliamentarians to contest the election in the supreme interest of justice and the public at large.

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