The election tribunal on Monday declared the election of National Peoples Party's MNA from Naushero Feroze-I district as void for not being sagacious and righteous as he used a non-recognised bachelor's degree to contest the polls.
The tribunal, headed by a former Sindh High Court judge, Zafar Ahmed Khan Sherwani, also declared the Pakistan Peoples Party's Zulfiqar Ali Behan as successful candidate in place of NPP's Rais Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi.
Jatoi was declared as returned candidate on the NA-211 seat in last year's general election by securing 83,960 votes against the runner up, Zulfiqar Ali Behan, who obtained 67,338 votes.
Behan had challenged this under Section 52 of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976 before the election tribunal, which conducted the trial.
He argued that the returned candidate was not qualified to be a member of the Parliament under Article 62 of the Constitution. Jatoi stands disqualified under the Article 63 since he is not sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and Ameen because he falsely claimed himself to be a graduate and failed to disclose his assets and liabilities as required under Section 12 of the Act, the petitioner had alleged.
He said Jatoi had hidden the fact that he and his wife were shareholders in the Moro Textile Mills, which was indebted to Mrs Khan Ginners as was evident from a lawsuit filed with the SHC.
The petitioner had claimed that the respondent had also failed to provide information as required under the Sections 12(2)(a), (c), (d), (e) and (f) of the Act and had also defaulted in payment of the wealth, agriculture income and other taxes. The petitioner had also accused the respondent Jatoi of having committed corrupt and illegal practices during the elections at 97 polling stations in the constituency.
On the tribunal's request, the National Database and Registration Authority had carried out verification of 56, 294 votes cast at certain polling stations and had successfully traced the voters thumb impressions on the 17, 856 used counterfoils. Remaining 38,435 votes were found to be invalid for various reasons, including have invalid Computerised National Identity Card numbers, cast by duplicate voters, cast without fingerprints or the fingerprints could not be matched with the database due to bad ink.
The tribunal ruled that the winning candidate had used his Sanadul Faragh while submitting his nomination papers to be considered as equivalent to the Bachelor of Arts degree, as required under the law, but the Higher Education Commission had not recognised it as an equivalent to the BA degree.
The tribunal ruled: "In view of the findings of issues No. 4 and 5 that the petitioner didn't have the qualification as provided under Article 62(f) of the Constitution read with Article 99(1) of the Act and therefore he was not qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly and his nomination papers for NA-211 Naushero Feroze-I was illegally accepted, hence his election is held as void under Section 68(b) of the Act."
The tribunal allowed the petition and also declared the petitioner as returned candidate under Section 69 of the Act. It directed its office to inform the election commission of Pakistan about the judgment to issue a notification regarding Jatoi's disqualification and Behan's victory.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2014.