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LHC seeks list of defaulter lawmakers

The Lahore High Court.—File Photo

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday to submit a list of former parliamentarians defaulted on tax and also apprise about those having no national tax number (NTN).

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah issued this order while hearing a petition seeking implementation of articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution in order to stop ineligible candidates from contesting upcoming general election.

Two representatives of the ECP were present in the court but they failed to submit any reply about the appointment of Muhammad Ashraf Wathra as deputy governor of State Bank of Pakistan after a ban imposed by the commission on appointments.

Justice Shah issued notice to Mr Wathra for Thursday (today) to satisfy the court about his appointment as SBP deputy governor. The judge also directed the ECP’s officials and a federal law officer to convey the order to Mr Wathra and ensure the compliance. The Judge is holding day to day hearing in the case.

On previous hearing, the court was informed that the deputy governor was appointed by former prime minister in violation of ban imposed by the ECP and the commission had ordered the government to cancel the appointment. The judge had sought reply from the ECP about steps taken to get its order implemented. However, the ECP representatives failed to come up with any satisfactory reply.

Petitioner’s counsel Azhar Siddique in his Wednesday’s arguments stated that over 14,000 candidates submitted their nomination papers for the May 11 elections but details of tax defaulters had not been made public. Referring to a news item, he said over 4000 candidates did not posses NTNs. He said how the nomination papers of a candidate could be challenged without such details.

He said that the former government had appointed Mr Wathra on a key post in a bid to get its candidates cleared from the scrutiny.

He demanded that all mega schemes for jobs or plots announced by federal and provincial governments till setting up of caretaker governments should be cancelled being a bribe to win votes at the expense of national exchequer.

He sought directions for the ECP to conduct the elections fairly and in accordance with law. He said if the record showed the decisions were rushed through just to meet the deadline of March 16, the same should be declared as void ab-initio and not having any legal effect.

He said the ECP should be directed apply provisions of Articles 62 and 63 in letter and spirit and the provisions as set down in the Peoples Representation Act, 1976.

Also, the LHC sought a reply from the ECP on a petition seeking directions to restrain utility bills’ defaulters from contesting the upcoming general elections.

A citizen Naveed Yasin filed this petition through Advocate Fahad Ahmad and stated that under Article 63(o) of the Constitution a person or his/her spouse or any of his/her dependents defaulted in payment utility bills in excess of ten thousand rupees could not contest election.

He submitted that this embargo had not been enforced in past paving the path for the defaulters to sit in the assemblies. He prayed to the court to direct the election commission to strictly implement the said provision of the Article 63 so that defaulters could not be contest election.

The court will resume hearing on Thursday (today).