- Top court backs ECP’s decision of postponement of polls in NA-60
LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday dismissed the plea of Awami Muslim League (AML) Chairman Sheikh Rasheed against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision of postponing the election in NA-60 following Hanif Abbasi’s disqualification in a drugs smuggling case.
The AML chief had moved the top court after the Lahore High Court (LHC) had dismissed his plea against the ECP’s verdict.
Following the disqualification of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Abbasi on Saturday, polls were deferred in the NA-60 constituency of Rawalpindi by the ECP as “it would take a lot of time to print new ballot papers for the 700,000 voters residing in the constituency”.
As the ECP is “bound to provide a level playing field to all candidates […] the general election in NA-60 is postponed and will be conducted after the scheduled general elections, along with other postponed elections,” the commission had said.
Furthermore, Abbasi was the only PML-N candidate in the constituency as the party had not fielded any covering contestant in NA-60.
LHC BINS RASHEED’S PLEA:
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday ruled in favour of the decision made by the ECP to delay the polls in NA-60 after Hanif Abbasi’s sudden disqualification in ephedrine case verdict.
A Rawalpindi bench of the LHC dismissed Sheikh Rasheed’s petition and declared that the elections will not be held in NA-60 with the 2018 general elections on July 25. The ECP decision to postpone the polls in NA-60 was maintained by the high court.
Earlier, Sheikh Rasheed had called the ECP’s decision unconstitutional and had said that if things were done this way then elections should also have been delayed when Captain Safdar was sent to jail.
“I have spent too much money on the elections. I am a Sheikh and I can’t even sleep at night now,” he had said.
Other than NA-60, Rasheed is contesting the July 25 general election from Rawalpindi’s NA-62 constituency as well.
EPHEDRINE CASE VERDICT:
Abbasi was accused of misusing 500kg of the controlled chemical ephedrine, which he obtained for his company in 2010. In its verdict announced after six years, a special anti-narcotics court late on Saturday ruled that 363kg of ephedrine quota could be accounted for, adding that Hanif Abbasi failed to provide evidence of utilising the remaining quantity of the controlled drug. The court acquitted seven other accused in the case, giving them the benefit of doubt.
According to Section 73 of the Election Act, 2017, “If a contesting candidate dies before commencement of the poll or during the polling hours, the returning officer shall, by public notice, terminate the proceedings relating to that election.”