- Justice Lodhi directs ECP to appoint a new RO for NA-57 to conduct by-polls in October
RAWALPINDI: An appellate tribunal at the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday issued its detailed verdict on the barring of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from contesting the general elections from NA-57 Murree, his native constituency, in the July 25 polls.
The tribunal ruled that the former prime minister was not honest and sagacious and hence disqualified for life. On June 29, the high court had suspended the tribunal’s verdict on June 29, making room for Abbasi to be able to contest the general 25 elections.
Penned by Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi, the detailed 10-page verdict observed that the petitions against Abbasi had claimed that he was guilty of concealment of facts for not providing the correct details and description of the immoveable property held by him within Pakistan and for intentionally and knowingly understating the costs of the assets.
Finding him guilty of the charges, the judge said that Abbasi had exposed himself to the disqualification clause as provided in the articles 62 and 63 of the constitution and was not a qualified person to be elected or chosen as a member of the parliament. The court said that the appellants had noted a marked difference in between the contents of two affidavits separately filed by the respondent along with two separate nomination papers.
Clause E in the affidavit filed along with the nomination paper titled Serial No 03 stated none, whereas the same clause in the papers titled Serial No 12 was tampered with by first writing the words none in the same manner as was mentioned in the earlier affidavit, but after interpolation, shares in the Air Blue and the Blue Pines Inn Murree were noted down against such column, the verdict noted.
The RO and Abbasi’s lawyer provided differing versions as to how and why this had occurred. “The stances taken by the RO and that of in the affidavit of Advocate Asad Iqbal Abbasi are inter-contradictory and either one of such stances is false.” The verdict also noted that the cost of a house owned by Abbasi in Islamabad’s F-7/2 sector was shown on Form B of the nomination papers to be Rs300,000, although, in that locale, only the open [undeveloped] land is worth Rs 50 to 60 lakhs (Rs5-6 million) per marla.
Additionally, Abbasi had mortgaged the same house to a bank against an amount of Rs24.7 million. “Either the cost of such house has incorrectly been shown as Rs300,000, or, if the same is the actual cost of the house, then the respondent must have obtained the mortgaged money more than 80 times of the actual cost of mortgaged property from the bank by using his influence of being a lawmaker or subsequent the prime minister,” the verdict noted.
“Both the positions cannot be reconciled conveniently.” The verdict observed that the purpose of furnishing asset details at the time of nomination is to give a fair picture of a candidate to voters. In the case in hand, the respondent has attempted to conceal all such material facts from the constituency and the intention of the constitution, law and the interim order passed by the Supreme Court on June 6, 2018 whereby a detailed affidavit was directed to be executed by the candidates giving full particulars for the voters, read the verdict.
Justice Lodhi regretted that Abbasi has been a Leader of House and thus, as the prime minister, was considered to be the face of the nation. “The nation needs its face to be clean and clear in order to earn some respect from [the] remaining world, which is not possible if such rusty faces are allowed to represent the nation,” he regretted, adding that nations expect high moral standards from their leaders by placing them at somewhat higher pedestal and giving a place of a role model to a leader.
The judgement declared Abbasi guilty of concealment of the facts and withholding of the complete information from his voters. According to the judgement, Abbasi was not an honest and ameen person and thus not a qualified person to be elected or chosen as a member of the parliament within the meaning of the Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution.
On June 23, Justice Lodhi had suspended the RO for NA-57 (Murree) Haider Ali Khan for accepting incomplete nomination forms submitted by Mr Abbasi. In today’s verdict, the judge said the suspension would continue, and directed the Election Commission to appoint a new RO for NA-57, where by-polls are to be held in October. The LHC registrar was also directed to initiate proceedings against Haider Ali Khan for misconduct.