–Sheikh Rasheed was expected to have nail-biting contest with PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi but polling was delayed due to latter’s conviction in drug case
RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday ruled in favour of the decision made by the Election Commission of Pakistan (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, the Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed had moved the LHC against ECP’s verdict for postponing polling in the city’s NA-60 constituency.
The ECP had postponed polls in the constituency following Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi’s life sentence and disqualification in the ephedrine quota case last week.
A former member national assembly (MNA) from Rawalpindi, Abbasi was expected to have a tough electoral contest on July 25 with Sheikh Rasheed — who is allied with the PML-N’s arch-rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Submitting a petition through his counsel Sardar Abdul Razzaq in the LHC’s Rawalpindi Bench, Rasheed has contended that election cannot be postponed due to the sentencing of a candidate.
Rasheed has argued that elections in the constituencies of PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz and Capt (r) Safdar were not delayed following their sentence in the Avenfield properties reference earlier this month.
The petition has named the ECP and relevant returning officer as respondents.
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.”
Due to the law, polls have also been delayed in PS-87 Malir following death of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan candidate Sharif Ahmed Khan in a road accident, PK-78 Peshawar after the death of ANP candidate Haroon Bilour in a suicide attack and NA-103 and PP-103 constituencies of Faisalabad due to the death of independent candidate Mirza Mughal.
Elections were also delayed in PB-35 Mastung after a deadly suicide blast which claimed over 149 lives including that of BAP candidate Nawab Siraj Raisani.
Polls have also been postponed in PP-87 Mianwali after the death of Ahmed Khan, a candidate of Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party.
Elections were also postponed in PK-99 after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Sardar Ikramullah Khan Gandapur was martyred in a suicide blast.