ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan approached the Supreme Court against rejection of his nomination papers from NA-122, Lahore and NA-89, Mianwali.

Imran Khan, on Wednesday, filed an appeal through advocate Uzair Bhandari against the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdicts under Article 185 of the constitution.

The LHC on 16-01-2024 upheld the Election Tribunal’s order dated 10-01-2024. The LHC in its order held that there is very limited scope for interference under Article 199 of the constitution in orders passed by the returning officers and the Election Tribunal.

The Tribunal had maintained the returning officer’s order rejecting Imran Khan’s nomination paper from NA-89, Mianwali on account of the Sessions Court’s verdict in Toshakhana reference.

Additional Sessions Judge, Islamabad Humayun Dilawar on 05-08-2023 had convicted Imran Khan in Toshakhana reference and sentenced him to three years simple imprisonment. In light of that decision, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified Imran Khan under Article 63(1)(h) of the constitution.

The petition mentioned that a Division Bench of the Islamabad High Court had suspended the sentence.

Bhandari contended that the impugned orders are wrong and are arbitrary and irrational decisions. Article 63(1)(h) of the constitution does not simply require a conviction and sentence of any offence. It stipulates that the conviction must be for an offence involving moral turpitude. There is absolutely no independent discussion in the impugned orders as to why the conviction under Section 167 of the Elections Act amounts to an offence involving moral turpitude other than a bare and false assumption. This is a significant omission, which renders the impugned orders sustainable.

He submitted that the impugned orders simply cite an excerpt from the Toshakhana verdict and conclude that the offence in question involved moral turpitude. He said the offence of which the petitioner has been convicted does not involve moral turpitude. There is no allegation or finding in the Toshakhana decision of any embezzlement of funds or wrongful acquisition of assets; the case was only about the failure to make adequate disclosures.

The counsel maintained that treating the conviction in the Toshakhana decision as a means of disqualification under Article 63(1)(h) is a violation of his rights under Article 10A of the constitution, as the petitioner was never under notice pertaining to any allegations of “dishonesty” and “deceit” or any disqualification under Article 63(1)(h) on such specific grounds, which evidently fall outside Section 137(4), Section 167 or Section 173 of the Election Act, under which the petitioner was convicted.

He stated that the impugned order is liable to be set aside for having been passed mechanically by relying on the Toshakhana decision and without application of mind to and without addressing all the relevant factors, including the various judgments of the Supreme Court.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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