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No Law Bars A Convicted Person From Holding Party Slot: Maryam To ECP

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ISLAMABAD: In a reference seeking her disqualification as the PML-N vice-president, Maryam Nawaz submitted a reply before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), saying no constitutional provision and the Election Act 2017 debarred a convicted person from holding any political party office.

Appearing before a three-member bench led by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza on Tuesday (today), her legal team headed by Barrister Zafarullah urged the Commission to dismiss the reference on the grounds of maintainability.

Justice (retd) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi and Justice (retd) Irshad Qaiser are the other members of the ECP bench.

Among other points, the reply said political process had been enshrined in the provisions of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 and Article 17(2) of the Constitution of Pakistan, adding that all the instruments provided guaranteed the right to participate in political process and form a political party.

“During dictatorships, there used to be a clause in Political Parties Order 2002 that barred a convict from holding a party position. The Parliament had done away with this clause in Election Act 2017,” Maryam further submitted through the counsels.

Raising a number of objections over the reference, she submitted, “It is a settled law that only an aggrieved person could knock at the door of ECP. The petitioners have no locus standi to file the instant petition, as the petitioner is not an aggrieved party.”

Substantiating her stance that reference is not maintainable and should be dismissed with cost, Maryam said the ECP had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the current matter, adding the reference was filed against her with mala fide and ulterior motives.

She claimed that Maleeka Ali Bokhari had invoked the ECP jurisdiction with unclean hands as she failed to disclose any right, relevant law or even equity in favour of her. Later, the ECP adjourned further till July 4.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had approved key changes in the party structure on May 3, including the appointment of his niece, Maryam, as vice-president. She is among the 16 vice-presidents, a step taken for the first time by the party leadership.

Later, PTI’s Bokhari had challenged the appointment of Maryam. After admitting the plea for hearing on May 28, the ECP had issued notices to Maryam for June 25 (today).

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