ECP to shortly announce verdict on whether Maryam can hold PML-N office or notArchive
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will shortly announce its judgement on a petition challenging the appointment of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz as the party's vice president.
The ECP on Monday reserved its judgement in the case for the second time. It had first reserved it on Aug 1 and had set Aug 27 as the date for its pronouncement. But in an unusual move, the commission deferred the judgement, asking the counsel for both sides to assist it on whether or not the bar on a convict from holding office of the president of a political party also applies to the vice president, in the light of a recent judgement of the Supreme Court.
On Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s counsel Hassan Maan had argued before a three-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan that Section 203 of the Elections Act should be read with Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. Alluding to Jehangir Tareen's case, he said a PTI lawmaker from Punjab lost his party position on the basis of the same principle which barred disqualified leaders from holding any party office.
Meanwhile, the PML-N lawyer said some political parties were headed by their presidents while others were headed by chairmen or emirs. He said that the individuals with authority mattered, pointing out that vice presidents did not have any power.
He said the Supreme Court’s judgement also specifically mentioned party heads and asked the ECP to dismiss the petition filed by the PTI lawmakers.
Following Maryam's appointment as PML-N vice president on May 3, PTI lawmakers, including Farrukh Habib, Maleeka Bokhari, Kanwal Shauzab and Javeria Zafar filed a petition against it.
The petition contended that Maryam could not hold any party position as she was convicted by a court of law on July 6, 2018, in a corruption case (Avenfield reference), filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The PML-N leader, on the other hand, had requested the ECP to dismiss the plea, arguing that there was no restriction in the Constitution and Election Act on a convicted person holding a party’s vice presidency.
In its judgement on the Avenfield apartments reference, an accountability court had sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to rigorous imprisonment of 10 years, Maryam to seven years and her husband, retired Captain Mohammad Safdar to one year.
The accused were also disqualified from contesting election or holding public office for 10 years to be reckoned from the date they are released after serving the sentence and they shall not be allowed to apply for or to be granted or allowed any financial facilities in the form of a loan for 10 years from the date of their conviction within the meaning of Section 15 of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
On Sept 19 last year, the Islamabad High Court suspended the NAB court’s decision in the Avenfield reference.
Subsequently, NAB challenged the suspension, but the Supreme Court dismissed its plea.