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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) stayed the proceedings of the newly-appointed Election Tribunal against the election results from the federal capital’s three National Assembly seats won by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidates.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq in a two-page written order of the last day (Tuesday’s) hearing, stated; “The proceedings before the Tribunal, constituted vide notification dated 07-06-2024 are stayed.” “Let main case as well as all pending applications be listed for 24-06-24,” added the order.

On June 10, the ECP ordered the transfer of the petitions against the three MNAs from the capital, namely, Anjum Aqeel Khan, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, and Raja Khurram Nawaz, to the tribunal led by former Justice Shakoor Paracha.

According to the IHC’s written order, the counsel for the petitioner submitted that the ECP’s transfer order was without lawful authority, and the reasons provided by the ECP were erroneous. It was contended that in the transfer application, allegations of bias were levelled against the tribunal’s presiding officer, who is a judge of the IHC. However, no justification or basis for these allegations was provided.

It was contended that the ECP had wrongly exercised its jurisdiction by invoking Section 151 of the Elections Act, 2017. It was also contended that either the proceedings before the tribunal, in which the matter has been sent, be stayed or the impugned order be suspended so that the proceedings can continue before the original tribunal.

The petitioner’s counsel also stated that the language used against the tribunal was “contemptuous”, “vexatious” and “scandalous”. “Reading of the transfer application shows that in ground-f of the application, contemptuous language has been used,” said the written order.

The IHC CJ granting a stay and halting the newly-appointed election tribunal’s proceedings, also issued a notice to respondent 3 (PML-N’s MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan).

During the proceeding on Tuesday, Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had expressed anger over the change of the Election Tribunal in Islamabad.

Justice Aamer inquired, “Why the tribunal has been changed? The government explain to me that this amendment was abolished years ago, and now they have brought it through an ordinance. How can the acting president issue an ordinance? What was the emergency that the ordinance came overnight? Let the system remain a system.”

The petitioner challenged vires of Section 151 of the Elections Act, 2017, along with Ordinance No5 of 2024 and the order dated 04.06.2024 passed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Prayed to the court to declare that Section 151 of the Elections Act is ultra vires to the Constitution and the assumption of Jurisdiction by the respondent no 02 (ECP) is unlawful, illegal, arbitrary, patently and manifestly, unconstitutional and therefore, is a nullity in the eyes of law and the whole proceedings be declared as void ab initio and set aside.

He also requested the court to declare Ordinance V of 2024, namely, the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance, 2024, maybe declared ultra vires. He added that the ECP may be restrained from hearing the application for the transfer of tribunal filed by respondent No 03.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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