The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday gave permission to contest the July 25 elections to a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate who had used the pictures of the chief justice of Pakistan and the army chief in his campaign advertisements and posters.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had earlier this month disqualified Nasir Cheema, a candidate from Gujranwala's PP-53 constituency, after he was found to have violated the electoral code of conduct by using photos of two heads of institutions on his election posters.
The lawyer for Cheema, who had challenged the ECP decision in the high court, informed a two-judge bench today that his client had been ruled ineligible to contest the polls over alleged violation of the ECP code of conduct.
However, he asked why the ECP had disqualified Cheema on the basis of election posters that were put up on April 18, 2018, while the code of conduct had been issued on June 14, and the election schedule was published on May 31.
The counsel also complained that the person who had filed the complaint against Cheema never personally appeared before the ECP. "The complainant also doesn't belong to the PTI candidate's constituency but is a resident of Karachi," he pointed out.
The lawyer also asked why the commission had not revealed the specific law under which the candidate was disqualified.
The LHC should therefore allow Cheema to contest the elections, he maintained.
After hearing the arguments by the lawyer and ECP legal adviser Imran Arif Ranjha, the LHC bench, comprising Justices Aminuddin Khan and Sajid Mehmood Sethi, ruled that Cheema was eligible to contest the elections.
The ECP had earlier in July quizzed Cheema over the controversial posters and asked him to submit a reply explaining as to why he should not be disallowed from contesting the polls.
“Are they related to you? What is the army chief’s and CJP’s link to the elections? On what basis did you put up their pictures?” an infuriated Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan had asked the PTI candidate.
Before Cheema was disqualified, the CEC had emphasised that it was not a question of when the posters had been put on display, but why these images had been put up at all.