PTI Gets Relief from SC as Elahi and Four Others Allowed to Contest Elections

The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday gave a major boost to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) by allowing its president Parvez Elahi and four other candidates to contest the upcoming general elections on February 8.

The apex court approved the appeals of Elahi, Umer Aslam, Major (retd) Tahir Sadiq, Sanam Javaid Khan, and Shukat Basra against the decisions of the returning officers (ROs) to reject their nomination papers from various constituencies.

Elahi, who is currently in Adiala Jail on corruption charges, has been cleared to contest the election from PP-32 constituency of Gujrat district. He had challenged the verdict of the Lahore High Court (LHC) that upheld the Election Tribunal’s decision to reject his nomination papers.

The former Punjab chief minister had filed a petition in the SC under Article 185(3) of the Constitution for leave to appeal against the LHC judgment dated January 13, 2024.

A three-member bench of the SC, comprising Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Athar Minallah, heard Elahi’s plea and the pleas of the other PTI candidates.

Advocate Faisal Siddiqui represented Elahi in the case and pointed out the anomalies in the objections raised by the rival candidates and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

He urged the court to grant permission to his client to contest the elections in Gujrat and said that they did not want any delay in the polls.

Justice Minallah observed that voters should not be deprived of their right to vote and that the ROs should facilitate and not obstruct the election process.

He remarked that it was strange that all this was happening to only one political party.

Justice Shah said that elections meant the inclusion of people and not their exclusion. He said that Article 17 of the Constitution stated that no one could be barred from contesting an election without valid reasons.

He said that the Constitution allowed enfranchisement and not disenfranchisement of the voters through elections.

After hearing the arguments, the SC declared the ROs’ decisions to reject Elahi’s nomination papers from PP-32 invalid and allowed him to contest the polls from the Gujrat provincial assembly seat.

Elahi withdrew his appeals against the rejection of his nomination papers from other constituencies, including two National Assembly seats.

The PTI president was arrested on June 1 last year in a Rs70 million graft case related to the embezzlement of development funds allocated for the Gujrat district. He was released several times in between, only to be re-arrested in different cases, including money laundering and illegal appointments in the Punjab Assembly.

The other PTI candidates who got the SC’s approval to contest the elections are Umer Aslam from NA-87 (Khushab), Major (retd) Tahir Sadiq from NA-49 (Attock), Sanam Javaid Khan from NA-119, NA-120, and PP-125, and Shukat Basra from NA-163 (Bahawalnagar).

The SC’s decision is a significant relief for the PTI, which is facing a tough challenge from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the upcoming polls.

The PTI has claimed that it has the support of the majority of the members of the Punjab Assembly and that it will form the next government in the province.

The PTI has also accused the PML-N of using the governor and the ECP to influence the election process and to disqualify its candidates.

The PTI has vowed to ensure free and fair elections and to protect the mandate of the people.

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