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LHC allows Raja Pervez Ashraf to contest polls

23 April, 2013

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LAHORE: The sword of disqualification hanging over the head of former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Asharf has finally been removed as a Lahore High Court (LHC) full bench on Monday gave him a clean chit to contest the upcoming elections.

The bench, headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, set side the order of the election tribunal and returning officer, barring Ashraf from participating in the election.

The same bench on Monday had conditionally allowed Ashraf to contest the election after suspending tribunal and RO's decisions and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to include his name in the list of candidates for NA-51.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi are the other members of the bench. Ashraf is contesting for a National Assembly seat from NA-51, Gujjar Khan, from where he had won the previous two elections.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had challenged his disqualification by the RO, which was later upheld by a two-member election tribunal. A relative of Raja Javed Akhlas, the opponent in the former PM's constituency, had complained that Raja Pervaiz had been misusing his discretionary funds in his constituency which amounted to pre-poll rigging and showed his partisan approach and corrupt practices.

Later, the PPP leader had filed an appeal against the RO's decision, which was dismissed by an LHC election tribunal comprising Justice Rauf Ahmad Sheikh and Justice Mamoon Rashid.

The returning officer had observed in its order: "Admittedly the apex court has held in its judgment in the RPP case that all the government functionaries, including this candidate (Pervaiz Ashraf) while increasing down-payment from 7pc to 14pc, had prima facie violated the principle of transparency."

He also noted that the apex court had also issued a notice to Pervaiz Ashraf on March 28, 2013 stating why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for writing a secret letter to the court in an attempt to interfere and influence it in the Rental Power Projects case.

Former law minister Farooq H Naek and Ahsan Bhoon appeared before the court on behalf of the petitioner.

They informed the bench that a probe was being carried out in the RPPs case on the directives of the Supreme Court. The former PM could not be disqualified from the elections till a verdict was announced in the case, they pleaded, stating that Ashraf was neither a convict nor any reference was filed against him.

Ashraf stated that the tribunal had put a bar on him just on the basis of mere allegations. He requested the court to set aside the tribunal order and allow him to contest the election for the National Assembly seat from his hometown.

Naek said Raja's nomination papers were wrongly rejected as he never misused discretionary powers to allocate development funds for his constituency. He said Raja Ashraf had the legal and constitutional right to contest the general elections. After hearing the initial arguments, the court set aside the order and declared Ashraf eligible for the elections.

End.

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