LHC dismisses Sheikh Rasheed’s plea against postponement of NA-60 polls

LAHORE – The Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected on Monday Sheikh Rasheed’s plea challenging Election Commission’s order of postponing polls in NA-60 Rawalpindi following sentence of life imprisonment of PML-N candidate Hanif Abbasi.

“Our petition has been rejected by the high court. We will go to the Supreme Court tomorrow,” Rasheed’s lawyer told media.

Earlier, the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench reserved verdict on a plea filed by Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid against postponement of elections in NA-60 constituency.

The decision was reserved by Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem while hearing the case and it will be announced shortly.

The petition was submitted by Rasheed’s counsel, Abdur Razzaq, in Rawalpindi bench, stating that the Election Commission of Pakistan cannot delay the election in case a candidate is convicted by a court.

The electoral body had announced to postpone the polls in the constituency after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate, Hanif Abbasi, was sentenced to life in ephedrine quota case last week.

The commission said that while preparations for the general elections were in their final stages and ballot papers for the constituency were already printed with Hanif Abbasi’s election symbol on them, the ECP is bound to provide a level playing field to all candidates. It said the election in NA-60 is postponed and will be conducted after the scheduled general elections, along with other postponed elections.

Why the voters bear the outcomes of a candidate’s conviction, the plea further stated.

The petition argued that elections in the constituencies from where Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar, who are currently serving their terms in Adiala Jail following the Avenfield verdict, were not postponed despite their convictions.

The AML chief spent all morning waiting at the LHC and then shuttled between the twin cities in an attempt to ensure his plea is taken up today.

After waiting helplessly at the high court, the AML chief approached the Supreme Court where he submitted his petition.

Talking to the media, Rasheed said he waited for five hours at the LHC but the registrar failed to fix his petition for hearing. He expressed hope that the Supreme Court will hear his petition today.

Rasheed has requested the court to nullify the notification of ECP directing it to hold polls in the area on July 25.

On Sunday, Rasheed held the stance that elections can only be postponed in case of death of a candidate. He sensed conspiracy behind postpone of elections.

While terming decision of postponing unconstitutional, Rasheed stated that decision is tantamount to pre-poll rigging.

An anti-narcotics court on Saturday handed life imprisonment to Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi in ephedrine quota case.

During case’s proceedings, Abbasi provided legal use of as much as 363KG ephedrine whereas he failed in submitting the evidence pertaining to legal usage of 137KG ephedrine case in the court.

On the other hand, seven other accused in ephedrine case have been acquitted by the court.