LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the federal government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on a petition challenging the latter’s power to withdraw the electoral symbol of a political party.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi heard the petition as Advocate Azhar Siddique appeared on behalf of the petitioner, a lawyer, Munir Ahmed.

The lawyer argued that section 215 of the Elections Act 2017, which provides for eligibility of a political party to obtain election symbol, is against the Constitution.

He pleaded that the right to contest the election under a common symbol cannot be taken away from the candidates of a political party. He said the ECP being a constitutional body is not a court or a tribunal, therefore, any power wrongly assumed by it for denying fundamental rights is illegal in terms of Article 8 of the Constitution.

Referring to the ECP decision on the intra-party polls of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the counsel argued that by denying the symbol, the party was eliminated. He said the common symbol cannot be denied to the candidates of a political party.

He said the ECP action of interpreting section 215 of the Act that it has the right to set aside the intra-party election and deny a party its symbol is a sheer violation of the Constitution.

Advocate Siddique asserted that the ECP had even no role in dissolution of the political parties as only the federal government had the power to declare that a party is formed or is operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan.

It may be recalled that the PTI contested the Feb 8 elections without an electoral symbol which it lost after a legal battle over its failure to hold intra-party elections. The bench sought replies from the respondents by next week.

Court seeks copies of past verdicts on jail trial

The Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed the provincial government’s lawyer to present copies of the past judgements on the question of jail trial in terrorism cases.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Aalia Neelum was hearing a petition of incarcerated PTI Senator Ejaz Chaudhry challenging his jail trial in two cases of May 9 riots.

At the outset, the judge asked an additional advocate general whether the high court already passed judgements on the points similar to the petition in hand.

The law officer said he had knowledge about one such decision.

The judge directed him to submit details of all decisions on the issue raised by the petitioner. The bench would resume further hearing on Feb 27.

Earlier, Advocate Ali Ashfaq, the counsel for the senator, pleaded that the provincial government with ulterior motives approved jail trials in the FIRs relating to the May 9 protests only to harass the suspects.

He argued that the jail trial cannot be termed open and fair as the concept of jail trial is against the fundamentals of due process of law.

He said a jail trial is a violation of Article 10-A of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to fair trial and due process of law.

The counsel stated that the trial court also approved the decision of the government and started the jail trial against the petitioner in two cases of attacks on the Jinnah House and Shadman police station.

He asked the court to set aside the decision of the provincial government and the trial court for being unconstitutional.

The PTI senator is on judicial remand in several cases of the May 9 riots registered against the leaders and workers of the party.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Not without reform
Updated 22 Apr, 2024

Not without reform

The problem with us is that our ruling elite is still trying to find a way around the tough reforms that will hit their privileges.
Raisi’s visit
22 Apr, 2024

Raisi’s visit

IRANIAN President Ebrahim Raisi, who begins his three-day trip to Pakistan today, will be visiting the country ...
Janus-faced
22 Apr, 2024

Janus-faced

THE US has done it again. While officially insisting it is committed to a peaceful resolution to the...
Elections in India
Updated 21 Apr, 2024

Elections in India

Independent accounts and spot reports are at variance with Modi-friendly TV anchors and they do not see an easy victory for the Indian premier.
IHC letter
21 Apr, 2024

IHC letter

THIS is a historic opportunity for the judiciary to define its institutional boundaries. It must not be squandered....
Olympic preparations
21 Apr, 2024

Olympic preparations

THIS past week marked the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the Paris Olympics, with the symbolic torch-lighting...