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SC clears Elahi for election candidacy

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) overturned the rejection on Friday of PTI central president Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s nomination papers, permitting him to contest in the upcoming general elections.

The court instructed the inclusion of Elahi’s name and electoral symbol on the ballot paper for PP-32, Gujarat, while he withdrew from all other constituencies.

An appeal against the rejection of nomination papers was under consideration by a three-member bench, led by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and comprising Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Athar Minallah.

Advocate Faisal Siddiqi, representing Elahi highlighted an objection regarding the absence of separate accounts for election expenses in each constituency.

The PTI leader, contesting from five constituencies, faced questions about the legality of not opening separate accounts for each, with Justice Athar Minallah explaining the legal requirement.

On the day of receiving nomination papers, Elahi was surrounded and detained by the police, argued his lawyer.

Legal matters were emphasised by Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, addressing an objection that accused Elahi of concealing ownership of a 10 Marla plot in Punjab.

The objection claimed a purchase on November 20, 2023, while Siddiqi argued that the assets’ disclosure date was June 30, 2024 and his client never purchased such a plot; at that time, he was in jail.

Justice Minallah supported interpreting the Election Act to avoid depriving people of their rights.

Moreover, the declared properties of Elahi, Moonis Elahi, and Qaisara Elahi were questioned, with no decision from the Returning Officer not to challenge, according to Faisal Siddiqi.

Justice Mandokhail suggested donating the additional property to a welfare institution. Siddiqi went even further ahead to insist that if the government had objections to the property it could keep it for itself.

Siddiqi requested permission for Elahi to contest elections up to the limit of PP-32 Gujarat, highlighting voters’ rights.

On being asked by the bench where he got the information of the plot from, the opposing candidate’s lawyer Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar revealed that he acquired the documents from a Patwari – a government official who maintains land records.

The revelation made the bench raise questions raised about the caretaker government’s involvement. “Are you saying the government in involved in all this? Tell us the name of the officials,” Justice Mandhokhail asked.

The government officer was later identified as Qaisar when Justice Shah questioned the prosecution on how they came to know about the plot.

A day earlier, Elahi approached the apex court against the rejection of his nomination papers for the upcoming general elections, contending that the objections raised to his candidacy were not maintainable.

Elahi, currently detained at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail, submitted his nomination papers at three National Assembly – NA-59, NA-64, and NA-69 – and four Punjab Assembly seats – PP-23, PP-34, PP-32, and PP-42. However, various returning officers (ROs) rejected his papers.

He challenged the ROs’ decision at an election tribunal that upheld the ROs’ verdict. Later, Elahi moved the Lahore High Court (LHC), whose three-member bench on January 13 upheld the tribunal order.

The PTI central president filed an appeal against the LHC verdict in the Supreme Court, naming the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the election tribunal as respondents. He requested the SC to declare the LHC decision null and void.