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LHC rejects Sheikh Rashid's plea, upholds ECP decision to defer NA-60 poll

Updated July 23, 2018

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Sheikh Rashid speaks to the media outside SC. — DawnNewsTV
Sheikh Rashid speaks to the media outside SC. — DawnNewsTV

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday rejected Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid's petition against the postponement of polls for NA-60 (Rawalpindi-IV).

Announcing the judgement it had reserved on Rashid's application, LHC's Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem upheld the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) decision to postpone the election in the said constituency.

The ECP had deferred the poll in NA-60 after Rashid's main rival — PML-N's Hanif Abbasi — was disqualified after being sentenced for life in the so-called 'ephedrine case' last week.

Rashid today reached the LHC's Rawalpindi registry to petition against the ECP's decision. His stance was that the election can only be postponed by a returning officer (RO) if one of the candidates passes away. His petition stated that the ECP had no right to postpone the election for any other reason.

Rashid later reached the SC with his application, where he said that the LHC registrar had not marked his case for hearing despite him waiting for five hours.

Soon after Rashid approached the SC, his case was set for hearing to the LHC, which later reserved its judgement on the matter after hearing his arguments.

The ECP, as well as the lawyer for another candidate from NA-60, Rashid Gardezi, had opposed Rashid's petition.

Gardezi's lawyer had asked what would happen if the elections were given a go-ahead and Abbasi received "hundreds of thousands of votes" in defiance of his disqualification.

Justice Mustaqeem inquired about the possibility of printing new ballot papers, at which the ECP's lawyer said that it would take a lot of time to print new ballot papers for the 700,000 voters residing in the constituency.

He further stated that all possibilities had been taken into consideration by the ECP before reaching the decision of postponing the election.

The ECP had on Sunday announced that polling in the NA-60 constituency has been postponed due to Abbasi's disqualification by the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) Court of Rawalpindi a day earlier.

As the ECP is "bound to provide a level playing field to all candidates [...] the general election in NA-60 is postponed and will be conducted after the scheduled general elections, along with other postponed elections," the commission had said.