KARACHI: An election tribunal on Friday allowed two appeals filed by candidates of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan against rejection of their nomination papers from as many National Assembly constituencies of Karachi.

The tribunal, headed by Justice Adnan-ul-Karim Memon of the Sindh High Court, set aside the orders of returning officers (ROs) concerned and observed that the relevant provision of the election law indicated that the powers of the RO had been controlled for not rejecting the nomination papers on any defect, which was not a substantial nature.

PPP’s Mirza Ikhtiar Baig and MQM-P’s Sadiq Iftikhar filed separate appeals after the ROs had rejected their nomination papers from NA-241 (Karachi South-III) and NA-234 (Karachi Korangi-III), respectively.

The ROs had rejected the nomination papers of PPP candidate over dual citizenship and the candidature MQM-P’s candidate was turned down for not disclosing his date of birth and computerised national identity card (CNIC) number as well as not mentioning the proper value of his house located in Defence Housing Authority in the nomination papers.

The tribunal said as per Section 62(9) of the Election Act, there are four grounds for rejection of nomination papers — the candidate is not qualified to be elected as a member; proposer or seconder is not qualified to subscribe to the papers; signatures of proposer or seconder is not genuine; and any provision of Sections 60 or 61 has not been complied with or a candidate submitted a declaration or statement which is false or incorrect in any material particular.

Ikhtiar Baig’s papers were earlier rejected over ‘dual nationality’, while Sadiq Iftikhar did not mention CNIC number, date of birth

In the case of PPP candidate, it also noted that the RO had turned down the nomination papers of the appellant over dual citizenship and as per the RO the appellant only produced an application to renounce his Canadian citizenship which only marked the initiation process of relinquishment of his dual nationality. However, the appellant has taken the stance that he had renounced his Canadian citizenship in June 2023, it added.

The tribunal observed that the qualification or disqualification of the appellant will remain open for the election tribunal to be formed under Section 140 of the Election Act after the general elections and added that at this stage, he made out the case for grant of relief as provided under the law.

In the appeal of MQM-P’s candidate, the tribunal noted that the RO rejected the candidature of appellant on minor defect that he failed to disclose his date of birth and CNIC number in the papers and such reasons were not sufficient to disqualify a candidate.

Notices issued on pleas of 55 candidates

Also on Friday, three appellate tribunals issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), ROs concerned and others on appeals of around 55 candidates against rejection of their nomination papers for the Feb 8 general elections.

The tribunals — each headed by Justice Arshad Hussain Khan, Justice Khadim Hussain Tunio and Justice Adnan-ul-Karim Memon of the Sindh High Court — directed the respondents to file comments on the appeals by Jan 8.

The appeals filed by Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) leader and former NA speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza’s sons — Muhammad Hassam Mirza and Hasnain Ali Mirza — were also taken up for hearing and respondents were put on notice.

The appeals of Dr Fehmida and her spouse Dr Zulfiqar Mirza are also fixed for hearing on Saturday (today) along with around 135 other identical appeals before the three tribunals at the principal seat of the SHC.

Their nomination papers were rejected from two National Assembly and three provincial assembly seats in Badin.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2024

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