Nomination Rejection for Non-Attendance and Non-Disclosure


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In a pivotal decision, the Lahore High Court's Appellate Tribunal overturned the Returning Officer's (RO) rejection of Malik Zaheer Abbas's nomination papers for NA-127 Lahore XI. The judgment addresses issues of procedural fairness and the interpretation of asset disclosure requirements.

Key Areas:

Absence During Scrutiny: The Returning Officer initially rejected Abbas's nomination papers because neither Abbas, his proposer, nor his seconder were present during the scrutiny stage. The court examined the circumstances and found that their non-attendance was not deliberate. During the hearing, the RO verified their identities and signatures, resolving this issue satisfactorily.

Alleged Non-Disclosure of Assets: The RO also cited non-disclosure of two vehicles (a tractor and a motorcycle) as grounds for rejection, interpreting this as an attempt to conceal material information. The court scrutinized the provided documents, which showed that these vehicles were sold in 2012 and 2021, respectively. Abbas argued that he had no intention to conceal these assets and had operated under the bona fide belief that they no longer belonged to him, having completed all necessary transfer documentation.

Legal Precedents: The court referred to several precedents, including "Syed Fida Hussain Shah v. Election Appellate Tribunal" (PLD 2018 Lahore 788) and "Shamona Badshah Qaisarani v. Election Tribunal, Multan" (2021 SCMR 988), emphasizing that bona fide non-disclosure without malicious intent does not warrant severe consequences. Additionally, "Yasir Aftab v. Irfan Gul" (2023 SCMR 206) supported the argument that omissions, if made in good faith, should be assessed leniently.

Conclusion: Judge Rasaal Hasan Syed concluded that the rejection of Abbas's nomination papers was not legally tenable. The court found that the RO's decision lacked proportionality and failed to consider the bona fide nature of Abbas's actions. Consequently, the appeal was accepted, and Abbas's nomination papers were validated.

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