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Verdict on plea against Aleem Khan’s election reserved

Updated January 22, 2019

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PTI leader Aleem Khan has been accused of failing to declare his assets and tax details. — File photo
PTI leader Aleem Khan has been accused of failing to declare his assets and tax details. — File photo

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday reserved its verdict on an election petition seeking disqualification of Punjab Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan on charge of concealing necessary details in his nomination papers.

The runner-up in the PP-158 election, Rana Ahsan of the PML-N, had challenged the victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Aleem Khan who had secured 52,319 votes against Ahsan’s 45,229 votes.

The petitioner pleaded that Mr Khan had failed to disclose details of his properties, tax particulars and inquiries pending against him at the time of filing of his nomination papers. He alleged that the minister was a defaulter of Rs9.3m in terms of the Employees Old-Age Benefit (EOBI) funds. He said the inquiries had been pending against Mr Khan before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) but he had not disclosed them in his nomination papers.

The petitioner further accused the respondent of grabbing hundreds of acres of the state and private land. He asked the court to declare him disqualified for holding a public office under Article 62 & 63 of the Constitution.

The counsel for Mr Khan denied the charges leveled by the petitioner, saying his client had disclosed complete details of his assets, properties and tax returns in the nomination papers. He argued that the respondent had concealed no facts which could entail disqualification.

The counsel said the petition against his client was politically motivated and liable to be dismissed.

After both sides concluded their arguments, Justice Ch Muhammad Iqbal reserved verdict on the petition.

Khwajas arrest: The arrest of former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother former provincial minister Khwaja Salman Rafiq by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Paragon City scam has been challenged before the Lahore High Court for being in violation of their fundamental rights.

Senior lawyer A.K Dogar of the Lawyers Foundation for Justice assailed the arrest of the Khwaja brothers through an application filed in an already pending petition against the arrest of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif by the NAB in another housing scam.

The lawyer pleads that the Supreme Court in a celebrated case “Khan Asfandyar Wali vs Federation of Pakistan-2001” had declared section 24 (d) of the NAB ordinance as ultra vires of the Constitution with an observation that the clause denies the right of an accused to consult and be defended by a legal counsel of his/her choice. He states that the apex court had also observed that the ordinance required to be suitably amended.

The lawyer contends that 17 years have passed, but the clause has not been amended despite a clear direction of the SC. He argues that the enunciation of the law by the apex court is applicable to the clause 24 of the ordinance.

Therefore, he asks the court to declare the arrest of Khwaja brothers unlawful for being detained unconstitutionally and need to be released under Article 4 of the Constitution.

The main petition of Mr Dogar that challenged the arrest of Sharif is pending adjudication before a division bench of the LHC.

The NAB had arrested Sharif in Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam on charge of misuse of his power being chief minister of Punjab. At present, Mr Sharif is on a judicial remand after undergoing physical remand with the NAB for 62 days.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019