Nomination Rejection Due to Procedural Oversight


sun rays coming through green leaves
sun rays coming through green leaves

In a significant ruling, the Lahore High Court's Appellate Tribunal overturned the Returning Officer's decision to reject Eman Waseem's nomination papers for NA-50 Attock-II. This judgment underscores the necessity of adherence to procedural fairness in the electoral process.

Key Areas:

Initial Rejection: The Returning Officer rejected Eman's nomination papers on December 30, 2023, citing three primary reasons: her status as a proclaimed offender, the absence of the candidate, proposer, and seconder during scrutiny, and failure to deposit Agricultural Income Tax (AIT).

Proclaimed Offender Status: The court examined the report from the District Police Officer, Attock, which labeled Eman as a proclaimed offender. The court referenced the case of "Sheikh Muhammad Akram v. Abdul Ghafoor" (2016 SCMR 733), establishing that mere registration of a criminal case or purported abscondence does not automatically disqualify a candidate from contesting elections.

Absence During Scrutiny: The court found that the absence of the candidate, proposer, and seconder during scrutiny did not warrant rejection of the nomination papers. According to Section 62 of the Elections Act, 2017, their presence is not mandatory but optional. The Returning Officer should have conducted a summary inquiry to verify the signatures rather than relying on their absence as grounds for rejection.

Failure to Deposit AIT: The court noted that no assessment had been made, nor was Eman served with any notice to pay the AIT. Citing "Nadeem Sarwar v. Election Commission of Pakistan" (2013 CLC 1481), the court emphasized that without an assessment, there can be no determination of default, rendering the objection invalid.

Conclusion: Judge Mirza Viqas Rauf concluded that Eman's nomination papers were wrongly rejected based on the stated grounds. The court highlighted that procedural fairness and proper verification processes were not followed by the Returning Officer. Consequently, the appeal was allowed, and the nomination papers were accepted.

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