LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday dismissed a petition of former interior minister Sheikh Rashid, challenging the appointment of Mohsin Naqvi as caretaker chief minister of Punjab.

Dismissing the petition, Justice Shahid Karim observed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was competent to appoint the caretaker chief minister after the parliamentary committee failed to reach a consensus on a nominee for the slot.

On behalf of the petitioner, Advocate Azhar Siddique alleged the respondent (Mr Naqvi) was the owner of a media house that was prima facie involved in `regime change conspiracy` hatched against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and had been actively working for the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

He said Mr Naqvi was involved in a case of corruption and “corrupt practices” made by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and opted for a voluntary return of the allegedly ill-gotten money. He said the respondent was a “convict”.

The petitioner pleaded that section 15 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 envisaged that an accused person convicted of an offence under section 9 shall forthwith cease to hold a public office and shall stand disqualified.

He submitted that under article 218 of the Constitution, it was the ECP’s duty to conduct and make necessary arrangements to ensure fair and free elections.

He asked the court to set aside the appointment of the caretaker chief minister being illegal and unconstitutional and also declare that the ECP and its members violated the constitutional and statutory requirements while appointing Mr Naqvi.

Justice Karim also dismissed a similar petition filed by a lawyer.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023

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