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Top Pakistan court serves notice to PM Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court Thursday served notices to Prime Minister Imran Khan and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) in the case of de-seating ex-National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

An election tribunal had de-seated the former NA speaker in 2015 on the petition of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who challenged Sadiq’s victory in the May 2013 general elections.

The tribunal had nullified Sadiq’s election from NA-122 Lahore wherein he had defeated PM Imran Khan and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold re-elections in the constituency.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Ayesha Malik heard the case.

Sadiq, appearing in person before the court, expressed that political matters can never be closed and said that even when he was the NA speaker, people still accused him of being involved in rigging elections and lying.

At this, the CJP asked Sadiq how many elections did he win after being de-seated in 2015. The ex-speaker responded that he had won all elections since then — in the re-poll and in the 2018 general elections.

But Sadiq insisted that winning elections was not the matter, the perception created about him in his constituency was what forced him to approach the apex court.

“If people have given you votes, what issues do you have with the perception that has been created?” the CJP asked. At this, Justice Mazhar told the PML-N leader that if he wanted to pursue a defamation case, he would have to file it separately.

“A defamation case has been going on for the last several years […] the issue at hand is my dignity and respect — and I want nothing else from Imran Khan,” the ex-speaker said.

Justice Mazhar told the petitioner that the defamation law was “very clear” and that if he feels he was a victim of character assassination, he could file a case in this regard.

“This is a political matter,” Sadiq responded, adding that he had only approached the court to prove his innocence and that he did not hide behind a stay order from the SC. “I contested the elections and I won.”

Later in the proceedings, the chief justice assured Sadiq that his legal action would never go to waste, as he told the ex-speaker that the Election Act, 2017, was a good law and that the ECP was doing exceptional work.

The CJP also said that a final decision would be made after hearing arguments from the prime minister and NADRA, as he adjourned the case for an indefinite period.

On May 9, 2015, NADRA had submitted its report before the tribunal, which de-seated Sadiq saying that only 73,478 votes polled in NA-122 could be verified, according to The News.

It had also said the fingerprints on the counter-foils of only 40% of the total polled votes correctly matched with the fingerprint data of the registered voters, held with Nadra. A total of 93,582 votes polled did not have verified thumb impressions on counterfoils, the report had added.

Following his de-seating, Sadiq had challenged the decision in the apex court and also contested for the by-elections in the NA-122 constituency where he defeated PTI’s Aleem Khan and later was re-elected as the NA speaker.

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