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Cheema challenges rejection of nomination papers in LHC

LAHORE:

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s Jamshed Iqbal Cheema moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) to set aside the returning officer (RO) and Election Appellate Tribunal’s orders rejecting his nomination for the NA-133 by-elections.
The RO had rejected Jamshed’s candidacy for the NA-133 by-elections on the ground that his proposer did not belong to the constituency where he – and his covering candidate Musarat Cheema – were contesting the elections.
As per election laws, the proposer must be a resident of the constituency from where they are contesting the election.
Jamshed challenged the RO’s order in the Election Appellate Tribunal, but the tribunal rejected his appeal.
The PTI leader then filed a petition in the LHC seeking direction to set aside the order of the RO and the order of the Election Appellate Tribunal. He also requested the LHC to set aside the by-election schedule issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The petition implored the announcement of a fresh election program after a correction of the record of the ECP, particularly regarding the misplaced census circles.
He further requested the court that ECP should perform its constitutional duty of preparing correct electoral rolls, to enable all eligible voters to exercise their right and guard against the corrupt practices of including non-residents as voters to affect the election result.
The appellants being the nominated candidates of PTI had allegedly submitted their nomination papers for the seat of NA-133 on October 25, 2021, by providing all the requisite information and documents as required by the ECP.
Read Lahore by-polls: ECP tribunal dismisses PTI candidates’ appeal
They stated that they were shocked to find out that their proposer Bilal Hussain’s name was not reflected in the electoral rolls of NA-133. It was revealed that the proposer is a resident of Mohallah Liaquat Abad, Kot Lakhpat, Lahore, which falls within the electoral area of NA-133.
They contended that all of Bilal Hussain’s family members are residents of the same address and registered voters of NA-133. However, despite the proposer being a resident of the same house – with an electricity connection under his name, address mentioned in his domicile and CNIC – his name fell under the NA-130 district, due to a clerical mistake. This resulted in the erroneous entry of his census circle number.
The petitioners maintained that in the voter extract certificate and SMS received from the ECP voter verification number, the proposer’s address was located in NA-133.
They claimed that it was not an error in the nomination papers but in the record of the ECP due to a misplaced census circle.
However, as a precaution, the appellants promptly filed an application before the RO on October 29, requesting a substitute for the proposer due to the error in the electoral rolls.
During the proceedings, the appellant’s counsels responded to the objection by explaining the factual and legal position and submitted supportive documentary evidence.
Their counsel relied upon relevant case law to justify that the nomination paper was valid but in the peculiar circumstances of the case, the substitution of the proposer should also be permissible.
Moreover, precedents from superior courts were also produced before the RO, which showed that under similar circumstances candidates were allowed to contest elections.
The petitioners asked the court to null the order of the ECP’s Punjab Chapter which rejected their nomination papers and requested that their nomination papers be accepted.

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