IHC bench recuses itself from hearing disqualification case against Imran

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A two-member division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) hearing disqualification case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan recused itself from hearing the case on Wednesday.

The constitution of the bench was challenged by the counsel of the petitioner, a candidate from NA-53.

Earlier, IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui was removed from the bench hearing the case. Justice Aamer Farooqi and Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb resumed the hearing, however, the plaintiff’s counsel argued that the earlier bench had issued the July 23 order and had shown interest in the case.

The earlier bench had given the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman until August 1 to submit a reply in the case.

Petitioner Abdul Wahab Baloch of the Justice and Democratic Party Pakistan (JDP), which is led by former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had raised objections to the nomination papers filed by Imran Khan for not declaring the name of his daughter Tyrian White in his nomination papers.

The returning officer (RO), as well as the appellate tribunal in Islamabad, had rejected these objections earlier and allowed Khan to contest the general elections in five constituencies, all of which were won by him.

The contention of Advocate Sheikh Ahsanuddin, counsel for Baloch, was that the tribunal, as well as the RO, had dismissed the objection by saying that only a voter of the constituency could raise an objection against a contesting candidate.

Under the Elections Act 2017, he argued that an opposing candidate could also file objections to the candidacy of a contestant.

According to the counsel, Imran Khan is not sadiq and ameen under Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution, the same clause through which Nawaz Sharif was disqualified in Panama [papers] scandal.

Advocate Imran Haider Kazmi, another counsel for Baloch, requested the court not to hear the matter since the constitution of their bench has been questioned.

Though expressing displeasure over the arguments, Justice Farooq remarked that since allegations have been hurled against the constitution of the bench, therefore, he was recusing himself and his fellow judge.

While reading out the order, he also requested the IHC chief justice not to include him or Justice Aurangzeb in the new bench that will hear this case.

Earlier, Dr Babar Awan had appeared on behalf of Imran Khan and opposed the reconstitution of the bench. He had requested that the plea be dismissed.

According to Awan, the petitioner had wanted a choice bench for his client, for which there is no provision under the law and that the transfer of a case from one bench to another is the prerogative of only the Supreme Court.