ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has been urged to declare Article 223(2) of the Constitution as ultra vires or as an alternative direct the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to make provision in Election Act, 2017 that a person, who wishes to contest elections against more than one seat, shall deposit the cost of bye-elections for such seats in advance.
Muhammad Anwar Mughal had filed a constitutional petition under Article 184(3) in December 2022 before the Supreme Court, but the SC Registrar office raised objections on it. The petitioner on Wednesday filed an appeal against the Registrar’s objections.
The petitioner submitted that certain politicians, to show they are popular among the masses, file nomination papers from 4 to 5 or more constituencies and even there are certain politicians who submit their nomination papers for the seats of National, as well as, Provincial Assemblies as per Article 223 of the Constitution.
He stated that according to Article 223(2) of the Constitution that the candidates, who are elected from more than one seat, have to choose one seat and has to vacate other seats and thus, the Election Commission has to conduct bye-elections on such seats as per Article 223(4) by spending huge amount from the public exchequer.
For the elections of such persons who contest elections on more than one seat and those who are disqualified, or resign from their seat, a huge amount (approximately Rs80 to 90 million for one seat) is spent on bye-elections, the petitioner added.
Article 223(2) gives a right to the candidates to contest election on more than one seat, but it infringes the fundamental rights of the general public as a huge amount is spent on bye-elections. He raised the question, whether the right of an individual is preferential over the rights of the general public, which is living below the poverty line. Hence Article 223(2) is ultra vires to Article 8.
Anwar Mughal stated that in General Election 2018, PTI Chairman Imran Khan contested elections from five National Assembly (NA) seats, while Tahir Sadiq from two NA seats, Ghulam Sarwar two NA seats, Pervaiz Elahi two NA and one PP seats, and Hamza Shehbaz Sharif one from NA and one PP seats.
He submitted that according to media reports Rs90 to 100 million is spent on holding elections of a National Assembly seat and its half required for the Provincial Assembly seat. He stated that in the recent bye elections 2022, Imran Khan Niazi won six NA seats in the bye-election. As per law, he could only retain one seat, i.e., the seat he is already having as MNA from NA-95 and thus, six seats from which he has been elected will again become vacant as per Article 223(2), and the amount spent on such bye-elections wasted.
The amount, which has been spent on bye-elections and the amount which will be spent on another bye-election, could have been spent on the flood-affected people of Pakistan, as well as, on the welfare of the masses or even for repayment of loan instalments to save the public from the unnecessary price hike.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023