CHAKWAL: The nomination papers of two major Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidates in Chakwal, Sardar Ghulam Abbas and Sardar Aftab Akbar, were rejected by an appellate branch of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday for concealing their assets.

Mr Abbas was the PTI’s candidate for NA-64 (Chakwal-I) and his nephew was his covering candidate, which means the party does not have an alternative candidate for this constituency. Their papers were rejected on an appeal filed by advocates Qazi Umar Ahmed and Malik Zafran Zulfi, both voters in the constituency, who contended that the men had wilfully concealed their assets and presented incomplete information. Mr Ahmed and Mr Zulfi filed objections to Mr Abbas and Mr Akbar’s papers before the NA-64 returning officer on June 14.

They accused Mr Abbas of concealing more than 600 kanals of agricultural land inherited from his father as well as his wife’s assets. Mr Akbar was accused of concealing 260 kanals of land.

Their objections were rejected by the returning officer on June 19, and the lawyers appealed the rejection before the LHC Rawalpindi bench on June 22.

Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi, the sole member of the appellate bench, reserved his verdict on June 25 and announced that it would be issued on June 27. On Wednesday, Justice Lodhi accepted the appeals.

In his verdict – a copy of which is available with Dawn­ – Justice Lodhi stated: “In view of the findings arrived at by the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in the case titled, Mst Suban vs Allah Ditta and others (2007 SCMR 635) under Islamic law, as soon as someone who owns some property dies, the succession to his property opens and property gets automatically and immediately vested in the heirs and such vesting was dependent upon any intervention or any act on the part of revenue authorities or any other agency.”

He also cited an SC precedent in which the court unseated an MP for not mentioning one bank account or disclosing the assets of his spouse.

He concluded that the returning officer had ignored all such disqualifications attached to the personality of Mr Abbas.

“Resultantly this appeal is allowed and the impugned order dated 19-06-2018 passed by returning officer NA 64 (Chakwal I) is set aside. The nomination papers of respondent No 2 for constituency NA 64 are hereby rejected,” the verdict read.

In another verdict, Justice Lodhi rejected Mr Akbar’s nomination on the same grounds.

Shortly after the verdict, Mr Abbas released a video on social media in which he urged his supporters not to be disappointed. He said he would appeal the verdict and was “confident our appeal would be accepted”.

Mr Abbas’ counsel Amir Butt told Dawn he would file the appeal by today (Thursday) before a two-judge election tribunal set up in the LHC.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2018