ECP ordered to proceed on plea against Faisal Vawda

Published December 7, 2021
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Senator Faisal Vawda speaks to the media after the hearing of a disqualification case filed against him. — DawnNewsTV/File
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Senator Faisal Vawda speaks to the media after the hearing of a disqualification case filed against him. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to continue to proceed on the application seeking Senator Faisal Vawda’s disqualification, after a lawyer informed the division bench that senior counsel for the appellant did not expect hearing on Monday and sought adjournment of proceedings on his intra-court appeal.

While the division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb adjour­ned hearing of the intra-court appeal of Senator Vawda till December 9, it observed that the appellant had already played hide-and-seek with the court for over one and a half years.

Mr Vawda had earlier resigned from the National Assembly and grabbed a Senate seat before a court decision on a petition seeking his disqualification from the lower house of parliament on the allegation of hiding information about his dual nationality while contesting 2018 general elections.

In an application filed before the ECP against Mr Vawda in 2020, a citizen, Dost Ali, challenged his election as a member of the National Assembly for deliberately hiding information about his American nationality while filing nomination papers for the elections.

The application mentioned that Mr Vawda had furnished an affidavit to the ECP to the effect that he was not a national of any other country at the time of contesting the elections. It stated that since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader had made a ‘false statement on oath’, he was disqualified under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution.

A three-member ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, while hearing the petition gave Mr Vawda the last chance to come up with the evidence in his support and adjourned hearing till Dec 23.

Senator Vawda in his intra-court appeal asked the IHC division bench to consider facts that he claimed the single bench of the IHC, headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah, had overlooked while rejecting his petition seeking halt to ECP proceedings in matter pertaining to his disqualification.

In the intra-court appeal, Senator Vawda further stated that the complainant against him failed to approach the election tribunal within the prescribed timeframe. He argued that Justice Minallah did not hear his contention, disposed of his petition, and directed the ECP to ascertain as to whether the lawmaker was a dual national at the time of filing of nomination papers.

Justice Minallah observed that if the ECP would find anomalies in Vawda’s declaration, he might be proceeded for contempt of court since the five-member bench of the Supreme Court had declared that filing a ‘fake affidavit’ before the returning officer would be contemptuous and besides disqualification it would entail penal consequences.

When the intra-court appeal came up for hearing on Monday, a junior lawyer appeared before the division bench of the IHC and informed the court that the senior counsel for the appellant could not come as he did not expect hearing on the day. The lawyer then sought adjournment of the proceedings of the intra-court appeal.

While observing that the appellant sought adjournment to delay the ECP proceeding, the bench asked the ECP to continue the proceeding on the application and put off the hearing till Thursday.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2021

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