MPA’s appeals against de-seating rejected ISLAMABAD: The PML-N’s Punjab Assembly member Rashida Yaqoob Sheikh from Jhang stands de-seated after the Supreme Court dismissed her appeals against the Jan 14 order of the Lahore Election Tribunal for holding fresh elections in her constituency, PP-78.
“We find no merits in these appeals. The same are, therefore, dismissed with no order to cost,” wrote Justice Gulzar Ahmed in a 10-page verdict. He headed a three-judge bench that heard three appeals filed by Ms Sheikh.
The tribunal, while accepting the petitions of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat chief Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhyanvi, Sheikh Danial Iqbal and Tariq Aslam, had asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to de-notify her election and hold fresh elections in the constituency.
Mr Aslam, one of her rival candidates, alleged in his appeal filed before the election tribunal under Section 76A of the Representation of Peoples Act (RoPA) 1976 that the MPA’s husband, Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, had concealed the facts about having obtained loans from various banks, defaulted in their payment and later gotten them written off.
The tribunal held that it had been proved that he was the main owner of the business concerns that had obtained the loans, defaulted and got them written off from various financial institutions.
Since these facts were concealed by the appellant by filing false declarations, the tribunal stated, she had been ineligible to contest the elections.
Senior counsel Aitzaz Ahsan, representing Mr Aslam before the court, said that an April 3, 2013 letter of the State Bank showed Yaqoob Sheikh as a defaulter and argued that once the husband of the appellant was disqualified, she also stood disqualified.
The counsel contended that the appellant had given a false declaration in her nomination form, suppressing details regarding her assets and liabilities and those of her spouse.
In the judgement, Justice Ahmed highlighted that RoPA provided for the consequence if a candidate submitted a false or incorrect declaration, which dealt with rejection of the nomination paper by the returning officer under Section 13(3c). It also empowers the tribunal to declare the election of a candidate as void where a false or incorrect declaration regarding payment of loans under Section 12 has been submitted.
Referring to the arguments by the appellant’s counsel, Muhammad Shahzad Shaukat, that the election tribunal had failed to take into account the settlement of loans by the Ibrahim Private Limited and Hussain Cotex and the clearance letter given by the banks, the judgement held that the court had gone through the relevant record and was of the view that in the statement of assets and liabilities filed by the appellant with her nomination form, she had declared the shareholding of her husband and herself, which depicted that she was a minor shareholder of the two companies.
But in the details of the bank accounts of her spouse and his business concerns, she had failed to declare the loans obtained by the business concerns of her spouse, the judgement said.