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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court disposed of Ali Khan’s petition seeking to declare the general elections 2024 null and void, and imposed Rs0.5 million fine on him for failing to appear before the court. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali, on Wednesday, heard Ali Khan’s petition.

The bench directed the petitioner to pay the amount equally to the Pakistan Bar Council and to the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) within 30 days, failing which they be recovered from the petitioner as arrears of land revenue. “We trust that the federal government will be ensuring that the petitioner does not use the rank of a Brigadier or ex or former Brigadier with his name,” the order further said.

Additional Attorney-General (AAG) for Pakistan Amir Rehman informed that the representative of the Ministry of Defence went to deliver the notice at the address of the petitioner on 20 February 2024, and according to the report of the Ministry of Defence, the notice was received by Amama Sohail, who stated that she was a family member of the petitioner. He then submitted the receipt of the notice by Amama Sohail.

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Notices were also sent through the District and Sessions Judge, Islamabad, whose report states that the petitioner was not available at the given address. The report of the SHO of the area states that no one answered the outer door of the petitioner’s residence; therefore, notice was pasted on it.

The Fixation Branch of this Court informed that they had received an e-mail dated 19 February 2024, wherein, the petitioner stated; “I am Ex-Brigadier Ali Khan’ and that he had sought withdrawal of this petition by filing withdrawal application.”

The e-mail confirms that “I don’t want to pursue the said petition anymore”. The e-mail concludes; “I deeply regret any inconvenience I might have caused to the Supreme Court and seek their pardon for my inability to appear in person as I am currently out of the country. I shall be extremely grateful to the Court for their magnanimity and for their kindness.”

The AAG states that the petitioner cannot refer to himself as an Ex-Brigadier because he was court martialed by the Pakistan Army for committing sedition, mutiny and insubordination in the year 2012. He was sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment and was released after serving four years of his sentence as he was granted remissions. He further states that the petitioner was stripped of his rank, which he can no longer use and the normal benefits which would accrue to a retired officer were not given to him.

SCBA President Muhammad Shahzad Shaukat was present in the Court and was asked to assist the Court. He submitted that the given facts and circumstances of the case constitute abuse of the process of the Court and it should be ensured that this should not take place in future and therefore this petition should be dismissed with exemplary costs of Rs1 million.

The petitioner must have used his rank to attract publicity and to ensure that the contents of his petition are widely broadcast in the media and published in newspapers. And after having achieved such a purpose, the petitioner immediately bought a ticket (on 13 February 2024) to catch a flight out of the country.

The usual practice is to buy a return ticket, but the petitioner bought a one-way ticket. He also did not disclose when he would return to Pakistan. It is also not disclosed why, just one day after filing the petition, he sought its withdrawal.

This petition has also consumed valuable court time, which is to be spent on deciding the cases of genuine litigants; not use the media for ulterior and nefarious purposes. The petitioner got prominent coverage and then the petition was abandoned and the petitioner left the country. Responsible media will undoubtedly want to disclose this order and the petitioner’s conduct to redress the damage done.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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