PTI on Friday challenged in the Supreme Court the appointment of Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi, and petitioned that he be restrained from performing any function regarding the elections and appointing any cabinet members.
In the petition filed by Advocate Imtiaz Rashid Siddiqui, the PTI argued that Naqvi’s appointment by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was “in direct violation of the provisions of the Constitution read with the provisions of the Elections Act 2017 and the Election Rules 2017”.
The party asked for the ECP to be declared “‘en masse’ biased and in violation of the code of conduct prescribed under Article 209 of the Constitution” (Supreme Judicial Council), claiming that it had abused constitutional and statutory powers.
The petition also asked for the appointment of Babar Hassan Bharwana and Justice (Retd) Ikramullah Khan as ECP members to be declared in violation of the Constitution, and be struck down.
Moreover, it requested that PPP leader Raja Riaz Ahmad’s appointment in May 2022 as the Leader of the Opposition be suspended as well, since it was “without lawful authority and of no legal effect”.
It alleged that National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had “exercised mala fide powers” in designating Ahmad for the role.
Regarding Naqvi’s appointment, the plea argued that an “individual without any experience of political, constitutional, bureaucratic set-ups has been selected/appointed”.
Stating that Naqvi had “no political, administrative and legal experience in ensuring the rule of law [and] the working of governments, the petition said the ECP’s “unanimous” decision was in negation to the mandate of the Constitution.
The petition also highlighted that former PTI leader Faisal Vawda had “publicly confirmed” in a news program on Samaa TV that Naqvi was the “only person” who will be appointed as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab.
Regarding the ECP, the plea termed its actions to be “equally worrisome”.
It argued that the electoral body, “in collusion” with Naqvi, had “caused massive transfers and postings and have brought officials who are inimical to the presence of PTl”.
The petition further claimed that Bharwana and Justice Khan were nominated as ECP members “through an artificial process”. It said the “entire process of consultation, nomination and appointment” was in gross violation of the Constitution.
Sheikh Rashid challenges Naqvi’s appointment
In a separate petition, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid also challenged the appointment of Naqvi for being “illegal, unlawful, without lawful authority, result of misuse of authority and excess of jurisdiction”.
The petition — filed by Advocate Sardar Abdul Raziq Khan — requested the apex court to direct the ECP to “ensure free, fair and transparent elections” by performing its duties under Articles 218 (election commission), 219 (duties of commission) and 224 (time of election and by-election) of the Constitution.
Rashid argued in the plea that Naqvi’s name was “put forth by present regime on account of his close association with current ruling elite, particularly Asif Ali Zardari and [the] Sharif family, and his political enmity against [the] opposition”.
He alleged that Naqvi was currently the owner of a media house that was “involved in regime change against the PTI and has been actively working for the PDM”.
The plea further stated that Naqvi was “not eligible to be appointed” as the Punjab caretaker chief minister because he was “involved in a case of corruption and corrupt practices” that was initiated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Citing Section 15 (disqualification to contest elections or to hold public office) of the NAB Ordinance 1999, the petition argued that an “accused person […] convicted of an offence” shall “cease to hold public office and […] stand disqualified”.
It added that Naqvi had allegedly “struck plea bargain/voluntary return” under Section 25 (voluntary return and plea bargain) of the NAB Ordinance and that any such accused person who has availed the section’s benefit shall also “be deemed to have convicted for an offence […] and shall stand disqualified for public office”.
Rashid further argued in the petition that Naqvi’s appointment would “defeat the constitutional mandate” as “fair and transparent elections rested upon [an] impartial, unbiased and honest caretaker setup”.
He also claimed that Naqvi’s appointment was in violation of the fundamental rights of citizens safeguarded under Articles 3 (elimination of exploitation), 4 (right of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with law, etc), 9 (security of person), 10A (right to fair trial), 14 (Inviolability of dignity of man, etc), 15 (freedom of movement, etc), 16 (freedom of assembly), 17 (freedom of association) and 19 (freedom of speech, etc) of the Constitution.
Neither of the petitions filed by the PTI and Rashid have been approved for hearing yet.
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