The Lahore High Court (LHC) issued a notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday, asking it to submit a response in the matter related to the disqualification of Jamshed Dasti — a Member of National Assembly (MNA) and convenor of the Awami Raj party.
Thursday's hearing in the matter took place after a civil miscellaneous application for early hearing of the case was submitted by the petitioner.
The ECP had earlier been directed by the LHC on February 23 to submit a response, but the commission had failed to do so prompting the petitioner to apply for an urgent hearing of the case.
According to the petition submitted by Farooq Ahmed Khan — a voter from Muzaffargarh's NA-178 constituency — despite a 2010 Supreme Court ruling which found Dasti ineligible to run for elections due to a fake degree, he resorted to concealment of facts in order to get elected as a member of the National Assembly in the 2013 elections.
The petition also contests Dasti's eligibility to hold public office stating that he does not fulfil the criteria outlined in Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, whereby a member of parliament must be "sadiq and ameen" (honest and righteous).
Farooq appealed to the court to address the issue expediently as time was fast approaching for the dissolution of assemblies before this year's general elections. He urged that Dasti be prevented this time from contesting the elections.
The court took notice of the petitioner's concern for urgency and sent a re-notification to the ECP to submit a response.
The hearing was adjourned until May 25 by which time Dasti's counsel is required to file a reply.
Jamshed Dasti and his Pakistan Awami Raj party
Jamshed Dasti, who was previously an independent member of the National Assembly from Muzaffargarh, submitted an application to the ECP in 2016 for the enlistment of his party named Pakistan Awami Raj.
He had requested the ECP to allocate ‘jharroo’ (broom) as the election symbol for his party and named himself as the convener of the party, submitting a copy of the party’s constitution, details of intra-party elections and manifesto with the application.
Dasti said he had decided to form his own party after being disappointed with the two major opposition parties — the PPP and PTI.
He had quit the PPP just before the 2013 general elections and voted for Nawaz Sharif at the time of his election as the prime minister. He had said that Imran Khan called Asif Zardari “thief” but now “the former has become the latter’s subordinate”.
Dasti has been embroiled in many controversies in the past as well, including an arrest for ‘meddling in official work’, registration of a case for ‘humiliating’ a hospital's medical superintendent and being jailed but later released for hate speech and water theft.