LHC asked to declare by-elections void

A petitioner has challenged the by-elections in the Lahore High Court as conducted by a "defunct" election commission.


Express July 20, 2010

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday asked a petitioner, who has challenged by-elections conducted by a “defunct” election commission, to make all the returned candidates respondents in the petition.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed objected to the petition filed, observing that as it was necessary to issue notices to the beneficiaries of the by-polls, saying that they should have been made respondents.

Chaudhry Murid Hussain filed the petition through his counsel, Aftab Ahmed Bajwa, wherein he made th e prime minister, leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (NA), speaker of the NA, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the federal law secretary respondents.

During the course of proceedings, the judge asked the counsel how could he make the prime minister a respondent. Bajwa replied that since he had challenged the holding of elections by a defunct election commission; and in appointing a permanent election commission, the prime minister plays an important role, it was necessary to make him a respondent.

Bajwa said that the prime minister and the opposition leader had also abetted the election commission in unlawful acts by participating in the election campaigns of their parties’ candidates.

He added that the election schedule for the upcoming by polls announced by the defunct election commission was illegal and liable to be suspended.

The petitioner he submitted that Murid Hussain, an advocate, was an aggrieved party who had suffered because of the acts of the respondents after the 18th amendment.

The amendment introduced changes in Articles 213, 218, and 219 of the Constitution requiring a permanent Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was to be established under Article 218(1).

The petitioner stated that after the amendment, some seats of the national and provincial assemblies fell vacant. The elections that should have been conducted by a permanent ECP were held by the defunct election commission, “which is not an independent body. It does not have the authority any longer to hold elections or to announce the schedule of elections to fill the vacant seats,” read the petition.

Bajwa said that his client had sent several applications to the respondents regarding the illegality of the defunct election commission.

He prayed that the elections conducted under the defunct ECP be declared illegal and unlawful.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2010.

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