ECP concludes hearing on petition seeking Maryam's disqualification as party VP; verdict reserved

Published August 1, 2019
Maryam's lawyer says ECP holds jurisdiction over national elections, not party elections. — DawnNewsTv/File
Maryam's lawyer says ECP holds jurisdiction over national elections, not party elections. — DawnNewsTv/File

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday concluded hearing a petition seeking the removal of Maryam Nawaz as PML-N vice president on the basis of it "conflicting with the law and the Constitution."

A verdict on the petition will be given on August 27. The petition was submitted by MNAs Farrukh Habib, Maleeka Ali Bokhari, Kanwal Shauzab and Javeria Zafar.

The petition also covers the legal basis under which Maryam is ineligible to hold public office and includes a detailed mention of past court decisions on the matter.

In their petition, the PTI MNAs asked how it was possible that members of the assembly fully abide by Article 62 and Article 63 of the Constitution, but the "people who control them [the lawmakers] don't".

It added that the Supreme Court had disqualified Maryam's father, Nawaz Sharif, from his party position as well and said that the ECP should similarly declare her appointment to be null and void.

A three-judge bench headed by ECP Chairman Sardar Muhammad Raza heard the closing arguments on the petition today.

PML-N lawyer Barrister Zafarullah Khan rejected the petition as non-maintainable. Furthering his argument, he said that the ECP is responsible for holding national elections, not party elections.

"Maryam Nawaz has not been elected for the position of party vice president. Her selection to the position does not affect the rights of any of the petitioners," the lawyer argued.

"Maryam was given the position on the basis of the party constitution and the PML-N constitution has been approved by the ECP," the lawyer said, wrapping his arguments against the maintainability of the petition.

The lawyer for the petitioner, Hassan Miyan, rebutted the arguments and said that in the case of Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court had used Article 62 and 63 to disqualify him from holding a party position and that the same can be used for Maryam as well.

After much back and forth between the two sides, the arguments concluded, after which the bench reserved its verdict on the matter.

Maryam's conviction

In July 2018, an accountability court had announced its verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference, sentencing Maryam to seven years for abetment after she was found "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father" and another one year for non-cooperation with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). She was disqualified from contesting polls after being convicted.

However, in January, the apex court had upheld an Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict ordering the suspension of prison sentences awarded to Maryam and her father.

Recently, the Supreme Court had ruled that the suspension of a sentence does not mean the nullification of a conviction.

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