- ECP spokesperson says a decision will be taken concerning Senate polls after detailed judgment
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court’s verdict to strike down the addition of Clause 203 into the Constitution through the Elections Act 2017 has triggered many questions over the fate of the tickets awarded to the candidates of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for the elections, besides the eminent jurists opine that the polls may be postponed.
The legal experts believe that the court verdict would affect nomination of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as party’s candidate for the prime ministerial slot by Nawaz Sharif, the party tickets awarded by Nawaz to candidates who contested the by-elections in Lodhran, Chakwal, Sargodha, and the award of Senate tickets.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) spokesperson said that any decision regarding the Senate polls would be taken after issuance of the detailed court judgment and in view of all legal options available. “The ECP was yet to receive the copy of the verdict and it would cater to all legal angles before reaching a conclusion,” the spokesperson assured.
In order to understand the future implications of the court judgment, Pakistan Today spoke to various legal experts, whose majority was of the opinion that there were chances of a delay in the Senate elections.
Eminent law expert SM Zafar told Pakistan Today that all the party tickets awarded by Nawaz Sharif as party president would be nullified according to the judgment.
“It is a norm that the courts always provide an alternative in their judgments in such conditions. I believe that the court may validate the ticket awarded to the party candidate in Lodhran by-election as a past and closed transaction. However, as an alternative, the PML-N candidates may take part in Senate election as independent candidates or as a group. Else, the Senate polls may be delayed and a new schedule may be announced for Senate elections,” he added.
JUSTICE (R) SHAIQ USMANI:
Justice (r) Shaiq Usmani said the verdict has created many legal tribulations for the ruling party. He said that normally the court also provides alternatives in such judgments in order to tackle the legal issues. He said that Lodhran by-poll would not get affected but Senate elections could get a hit.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and counsel in the case, Babar Awan, said that Senate elections will have to be rescheduled while the tickets awarded to the PML-N candidates in the by-elections of Lodhran, Chakwal, and Sargodha would also be affected. He said the intra-party elections of the PML-N also stand null and void.
RASHID A RIZVI:
Justice (r) Rashid A Rizvi was of the view that the court should have provided a cover to those decisions taken in the past under the doctrine of past and closed transaction. He said that normally the judgments of superior courts are prospective in nature and they don’t have retrospective effect.
He said the PML-N candidates may contest Senate election as independent candidates as the schedule is already out. He said the PML-N should go for the review so as its decisions taken in the past could be protected.
Former ECP secretary Kunwar Dilshad said that the judgment would have an impact on the nomination of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the election of prime minister as this decision was also taken by Nawaz Sharif.
He said that the party tickets awarded for by-election and Senate would also get a hit due to the court’s verdict.
Former Punjab governor Shahid Hamid said that the judgment would have no consequences for Nawaz Sharif and he would keep calling the shots in the ruling party. He said that procedures for Senate election were different from National Assembly elections and the new PML-N president can issue a certificate to the party candidates for Senate elections.
He said Nawaz Sharif can act as a de-facto president like Mahatma Gandhi of India and Nelson Mandela of South Africa even after their retirement from politics. He said whosoever would replace Nawaz Sharif as party chief would be a mere symbolic head.
Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that the ECP may issue a new schedule for Senate elections or the ruling party may issue new certificates to the party candidates. He said the election of PM Abbasi was protected as he was not legally nominated by Nawaz Sharif before his re-elections as the party chief.
Barrister Farogh Nasim—a petitioner’s counsel in the case pertaining to the Election Act—was of the view that all tickets awarded by Nawaz Sharif have become void after the verdict. He said that Senate elections would be held on time but the PML-N candidates would be affected due to the verdict.
Advocate Faisal Chaudhry said that the PML-N has been ousted from Senate elections after the court verdict. He claimed the ECP will also issue a new schedule for the Senate elections.
Advocate Akram Chaudhry claimed that judgment did not mention Senate election and therefore the Senate polls would go ahead per schedule.