KARACHI, April 24: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed the provincial authorities to file a detailed report “disclosing the particulars of official protocol” provided to Owais Muzaffar Tappi — said to be a foster brother of President Asif Ali Zardari and a candidate for a provincial assembly seat in Thatta.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam gave the direction while hearing a constitutional petition of Syed Shafqat Hussain Shirazi, a rival candidate, and his election manager, Haji Mohammed Haneef, against the official protocol to Mr Tappi and the transfers and postings of police and administration officers allegedly at his behest to influence the upcoming general elections. The petitioner, represented by Advocate Aqil Awan, cited the chief secretary, the provincial election commissioner, the home secretary, the inspector general of police, the DIG of Hyderabad, SSP of Thatta and Mr Tappi as respondents.
Petitioner Sheerazi submitted that the president’s foster brother was fielded as an election candidate by the Pakistan Peoples Party after he and his family members parted ways with the former ruling party and the respondent was enjoying official protocol without any justification causing prejudice to him and other candidates.
Besides, he added, the official protocol and security arrangements caused a huge loss to the national exchequer as the president’s foster brother moved around in a convoy of four Land Cruisers bearing identical number of 6666, an ambulance, six police mobile vans and three to four other vehicles.
The petitioner stated that the police and administration officers were transferred and posted on a massive scale at the behest of the respondent candidate who enjoyed the support of the provincial caretaker government.
He pointed out that Munir Khoro was recently posted as SSP Thatta and he transferred the SHOs of Ghora Bhari, Keti Bander, Jati, Sujawal, Mirpur Bathoro and Jhampir.
Petitioner Shirazi alleged that respondent Tappi was terrorising and harassing the voters to win over the provincial assembly seat (PS-88).
He submitted that a police party on April 21 raided his election office and attempted to kidnap his election manager.
The petitioner asked the court to direct the provincial authorities and the election commissioner to ensure the removal of all police and administration officers, including the area deputy commissioner, who were either beneficiaries of out-of-turn promotions or absorbed in the provincial departments during the last government.
The bench directed the provincial authorities to file a detailed report as to whether the beneficiaries of out-of-turn promotions were posted in the subject constituencies.
The bench directed the respondents to file their respective comments “without fail before the next date of hearing disclosing the particulars of official protocol provided to respondent No. 7 [Owais Muzaffar Tappi] as well as the nature of official personnel and vehicles at his disposal”.
The matter was adjourned to April 30.
Stay on ballot papers’ printing
A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar extended the restraining order on printing of ballot papers of 11 recently delimited constituencies of the National and the Sindh Assemblies in Karachi till April 26.
The application was filed by MQM leader Advocate Farough Naseem, who asked the court to restrain the ECP from getting the voters’ lists of the redrawn constituencies, as any change in the electoral lists was void and illegal after the start of the election process.
The applicant submitted that the MQM had already challenged the redrawing of the constituencies in the SHC that reserved the judgment on its petition after hearing the final arguments from the two sides.
He said he watched a report on DawnNews to the effect that the ECP sent the voters’ list of Karachi for printing according to the delimitation notification.
The counsel stated that the ECP had already announced on March 17 the final electoral list, therefore, any change in it would be illegal. He stated that any step towards printing of electoral lists would influence the delimitation case.
The ECP had issued a notification on March 22, announcing delimitation of three National Assembly constituencies (NA-239, 250 and 254) and eight Sindh Assembly constituencies (PS-89, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 118 and 124) in Karachi.
The bench directed the ECP not to commence printing process of ballot papers of the 11 delimited constituencies till April 26, the next date of hearing of the case.
Election pleas dismissed
A three-member larger appellate bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar dismissed the petitions of Speaker National Assembly Fahmida Mirza and Bibi Yasmin Shah against each other’s candidature.
The bench also threw out the petitions against the candidature of PPP leaders Khurshid Shah to a National Assembly seat and Agha Siraj Durrani to a provincial assembly seat.
The bench heard in all 14 election petitions and issued notice to the respondents for Thursday and Friday.