PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to respond to Jamaat-i-Islami candidate Aizazul Mulk Afkari’s petition seeking orders for the notification of his election as MPA from the provincial assembly constituency, PK-95, Lower Dir.

The May by-elections, which had made the petitioner MPA, were declared void over the women’s disenfranchisement.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Mrs Irshad Qaisar also extended a stay order which it had issued during the last hearing regarding suspension of an ECP notification of holding fresh by-elections on July 12 in the said constituency.

The petitioner had challenged the ECP decision of June 2 to declare the PK-95 by-elections void as well as its June 5 notification of the schedule of fresh by-polls on July 12.

JI candidate had filed petition for notification of his election as MPA

The petitioner also moved an application to the court saying the ECP notification has already been suspended, the commission should be directed to notify his election as MPA from PK-95. Ghulam Mohiuddin Malik and Aamir Jawed, lawyers for the petitioner, said under Article 225 of the Constitution, no election should be called in question except by an election petition before an election tribunal.

They, however, said the ECP had taken a suo moto notice of the reports over the women’s disenfranchisement in PK-95.

The lawyers said the ECP declared the said elections held on May 7 void and ordered fresh by-polls there.

They said during previous hearing on June 11, the court had suspended operation of the ECP impugned notification and stayed by-elections scheduled for July 12.

The lawyers said as the impugned notification was no longer in the field, it would be appropriate to notify their client’s election as MPA.

The bench directed that the ECP to file reply to the application within a fortnight and fixed the hearing until July 28.

In a related development in the day, the National Commission on the Status of Women and civil society organisations and activists also filed separate applications with the court seeking orders for their inclusion in the case as respondents.

Among applicants were Aurat Foundation, former MNA Bushra Gohar, Rukshanda Naz, Tahira Abdullah, Kishwar Sultana and others.

The bench directed the petitioner to submit reply to the applications.

Lawyers Qazi Jawad Ahsanullah, Jalauddin Khan and Hassan Mehmood appeared for applicants.

The bench asked them what the locus standi of their clients was as they were not voters of the said constituency and that as such, they could not be termed aggrieved persons.

The lawyers said they would explain the point during detailed arguments and said their clients had been working for women rights in the country.

These applications will also be heard on the next date.

The said seat had fallen vacant after then MPA Sirajul Haq, the JI chief, became a senator.

Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan had taken notice of the alleged disenfranchisement of women over media reports and on complaints of civil society organisations.

The petitioner has claimed traditionally, women in PK-95 didn’t participate in elections and that too of their own free will and not under any pressure or coercion.

He said there existed no evidence of any agreement among local elders for vote bar on women.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2015

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