ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court declared null and void on Wednesday the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone polling in NA-60 Rawalpindi after the arrest of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Hanif Abbasi.
On July 22, Abbasi was sentenced for life in the ephedrine quota case following which the ECP postponed the election in the Rawalpindi constituency citing various legal provisions regarding fairness of polls.
On July 24, Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rasheed, Abbasi’s main contender in the constituency, approached the top court against the ECP order but the Supreme Court allowed for the postponement to continue and decided to take up his plea later.
Hearing the case today, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar directed the ECP to hold the by-election on the seat on time.
Rasheed praised the chief justice over the court’s decision and took back his petition against the ECP order.
The AML chief also contested and won the July 25 General Election from Rawalpindi's NA-62 seat.
'ECP bound to provide level-playing field'
Following the verdict against Abbasi, the ECP had issued a statement: "Only two days are left to the conduct of polls when Mr Hanif Abbasi, a potential candidate from NA-60 Rawalpindi-IV, has been disqualified, which has resulted in heated debate in the media and political circles rendering the atmosphere as fully and negatively charged.”
“The ECP having taken cognisance of all the attending circumstances is bound to provide level playing field to the contestants, under the Constitution and the law, particularly Section 4 of the Elections Act 2017 read with Article 218(3) of the Constitution and the powers of the Commission defined by the august Supreme Court of Pakistan in famous Workers Party case, and further in order to do complete justice between the contestants and the parties, the ECP directs that the general elections 2018 in NA-60 Rawalpindi IV is postponed.,” it stated further.