ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), attorney general (AGP) and MNA Sadaf Ihsan in an impersonation case, filed by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F).

The party accuses Ms Ihsan of impersonating the candidate actually fielded by them on a reserved seat for women from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The case was taken up by a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan. The JUI-F had moved the apex court against the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) April 2 order which had led the ECP to reinstate Ms Ihsan as a member of the National Assembly.

While issuing notices, the apex court observed that it cannot settle the matter without hearing the commission as well as the AGP and postponed the proceedings for two weeks.

JUI-F claims Sadaf Ihsan ‘impersonated’ its candidate to become MNA

Representing JUI-F, senior counsel Kamran Murtaza explained that the party had submitted with the ECP separate lists of its candidates in order of priority for seats reserved for women and non-Muslims, adding the party would withdraw its stance if Ms Ihsan presents before the court the ticket that the party had issued to her.

Earlier, the ECP had withdrawn the victory notification after the JUI-F disowned Ms Ihsan being a member of the party.

In its petition, JUI-F pleaded that a list was furnished to the ECP containing details for three candidates, including Hina Bibi (Respondent 6). However, to the extent of Sadaf Yasmin — the candidate who Sadaf Ihsan impersonated — only her name was added to the list because other details had not been conveyed by her to the party.

According to the petition, prior to the issuance of the notification of the returned candidate, the ECP ought to have either rejected the list to the extent of Sadaf Yasmin or sought clarification from the party whether Sadaf Ihsan was Sadaf Yasmin or not.

The JUI-F emphasised that it was purely the prerogative of political parties to decide the candidature for the reserved seats of women in order of priority under Article 51(e) of the Constitution, Section 104 of the Elections Act, 2017 and Chapter VI of Elections Rules 2017.

The ECP can recall or amend a notification issued under Article 51 of the Constitution, read with Section 104 of Elections Act 2017 for reserved NA seats for women, if an impersonator has managed to get a reserved seat due to negligence of the Returning Officer, the petition said.

A political party and the rightful candidate cannot be deprived of a seat due to negligence on part of an ECP official, the petition bemoaned, adding that the claim of Ms Ihsan on the seat was a privilege granted by the party.

Thus Ms Ihsan cannot claim rights on a seat before the PHC by going against the stance of her own party about her being an impersonator and her having no right to enforce for a reserved seat not meant for her, the petition emphasised.

Published in Dawn, April 23nd, 2024

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