Infostani International: On Wednesday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) dismissed the petitions filed by Imran Khan, the former prime minister and PTI founder, challenging the decisions that rejected his nomination papers for NA-122 (Lahore) and NA-89 (Mianwali).
LHC Bench Decision on Imran Khan’s Nomination Papers: Rejection Upheld Ahead of General Elections
A larger LHC bench, led by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, decided the fate of the ex-premier’s petitions. During the hearing, the court supported the decisions of the appellate tribunals and dismissed Imran’s nomination papers, effectively barring him from the upcoming general elections.
Imran faced rejection of his nomination papers primarily due to his conviction in the Toshakhana case, where he received a three-year imprisonment sentence. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) filed the case, alleging that Imran did not include details of state gifts in his tax declarations. Although the Islamabad High Court later annulled the sentence and ordered his release, he remained in custody due to an ongoing trial in the cipher case.
Imran’s nomination papers for NA-122 were also invalidated because the proposer was not a constituent voter. The appellate tribunals affirmed the decisions of the respective returning officers (ROs), emphasizing that conviction and sentence were distinct terms. Conviction refers to a court’s guilty verdict, while the sentence indicates the punishment’s severity.
Following these rejections, Imran filed two petitions in the LHC, seeking to overturn the decisions of the ROs and the appellate tribunals regarding the rejection of his nomination papers from both National Assembly constituencies.
Legal Arguments in Imran Khan’s Nomination Case: Debate over Moral Turpitude Conviction and Jurisdiction of Returning Officer
Advocate Uzair Bhandari, representing Imran, argued that a conviction for moral turpitude did not meet the disqualification criteria. He asserted that the petitioner’s conviction could not be equated with corruption or the accumulation of illegal assets. Bhandari also highlighted that an Indian court considered the offense of moral turpitude less severe than financial corruption. However, the bench noted that Pakistan’s moral standards differed from those in other regions.
Bhandari further contended that the RO lacked jurisdiction to issue the contested order based on the conviction for moral turpitude. In response, a lawyer for the ECP argued that the petitioner’s conviction remained valid, and the high court had not acquitted him. The court subsequently reserved its verdict on the petitions.