–Ex-finance minister’s reply says 18th Constitutional Amendment does not prohibit absconders from participating in polls
ISLAMABAD: Responding to the March 12 notice issued by the Supreme Court (SC) over participation in Senate elections, former finance minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday submitted a reply reasoning that there was no provision under law or constitution barring an absconder from contesting elections.
The reply, submitted by the former finance minister’s lawyer Advocate Salman Aslam Butt, argued that after the enactment of 18th Amendment, there was no prohibition under the law that Dar could not contest for Senate elections.
It says, “Having canvassed the amendments made to Article 63 of the constitution … there is no prohibition on a person who has been declared an absconder from contesting the Senate elections. Accordingly, an appeal is liable to be dismissed.”
Butt asked the top court to declare the writ petition non-maintainable in view of the interpretation of constitution and law.
“A person can only be debarred from contesting the elections if his case falls squarely within the strict scope of the qualification and disqualification stipulated by the Constitution and by law. Since the law favours a liberal interpretation … therefore the Writ Petition was not maintainable,” it adds.
The reply was submitted to the top court over the petition wherein Dar’s nomination papers for Senate elections had been challenged after Lahore High Court (LHC) had allowed him to contest.
The apex court had issued a notice to Dar over a plea against LHC’s verdict that allowed him to participate in the 2018 Senate election. The three-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, questioned whether he was eligible to contest elections.
On February 17, an appellate election tribunal of the LHC granted Dar permission to contest Senate election, setting aside an order of the returning officer (RO) who had rejected his nomination papers. On March 3, the former finance minister won a Senate seat as a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) backed independent candidate.