KARACHI: A gardener was allowed to contest the upcoming local government (LG) elections in Thatta after Sindh High Court Chief Justice Faisal Arab observed on Friday that the elections are a process in which every citizen has a right to contest.
Arab made this observation while heading a division bench that allowed an aspiring candidate, Anwar Baran, to contest for the general councilor's seat in taluka Shah Bandar of district Sajawal/Thatta.
Baran had approached the Sindh High Court against the rejection of his nomination papers by the district and sessions judge, Thatta, on the grounds that he cannot contest the polls being in government service, under Section 18(1)(e ) of the Local Government Act, 2013.
The petitioner said he wants to contest for the general councilor's seat from the Daulatpur union council’s Ward 1 in Shah Bandar taluka on the panel backed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
But his political opponents, during scrutiny, objected that he is serving as a 'gardener' in a government department and is thus ineligible to contest the polls, according to the Sindh local government department's notification dated January 10, 2013.
The petitioner said that, following the rejection of his nomination papers, he approached the relevant municipal committee, which verified that there is no record of his appointment in the government service, thus the objection is bogus.
Advocate Abdul Wahab Baloch argued that the appellant authority, without applying its judicial mind, had turned down his client's nomination papers and the order is not sustainable in the eye of the law. The court was informed that all the legal formalities had been completed when the petitioner submitted his nomination papers, therefore, not allowing him to contest the polls was a deprivation of his rights.
"The election mafia [should] be restrained from coming in the way of the common man in the local government elections," pleaded the petitioner.
He requested the court to set aside the order on his ineligibility and allow him to take part in the elections. The two-judge bench observed that, since it was the right of every citizen to take part in the local bodies’ polls, therefore, the petitioner is allowed to contest the upcoming elections. They clarified, however, that the question of his eligibility may later be decided.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.
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