Rejection of Imran Khan's Nomination Papers Over Conviction


a black and white photo of a barbed wire fence
a black and white photo of a barbed wire fence

In a landmark judgment, the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi Bench upheld the Returning Officer's decision to reject Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi's nomination papers for the NA-89, Mianwali-I constituency. This ruling underscores the legal implications of convictions related to moral turpitude on electoral eligibility.

Key Areas:

Grounds for Rejection: The Returning Officer rejected Imran Khan's nomination papers due to his conviction under Section 167 of the Elections Act, 2017, for corrupt practices, leading to a three-year imprisonment sentence. This conviction was deemed to involve moral turpitude, disqualifying him under Article 63(1)(h) of the Constitution.

Conviction and Moral Turpitude: The court examined the definition of "moral turpitude" and concluded that actions involving dishonesty and deceitfulness, as noted in the judgment of conviction, fall under this category. The court referenced the Supreme Court case "Chairman, Pakistan Railway v. Shah Jahan Shah" (PLD 2016 SC 534) and "Divisional Superintendent, Postal Services, D.G. Khan v. Nadeem Raza" (2023 SCMR 803) to define moral turpitude as acts contrary to justice, honesty, and good morals.

Jurisdiction and Legal Framework: The court clarified its limited jurisdiction under Section 63 of the Elections Act, 2017, to assess the legality of the Returning Officer's decision, rather than the merits of the conviction. The tribunal affirmed that the Returning Officer was competent to scrutinize the disqualification under Article 63(1)(h) as part of ensuring the legal competency of candidates.

Suspension of Sentence: The court noted that while Imran Khan's sentence was suspended by the Islamabad High Court, his conviction remained intact. The distinction between suspension of sentence and suspension of conviction was emphasized, citing "Abdul Kabir v. The State" (PLD 1990 SC 823), which clarified that suspension of a sentence does not erase the conviction.

Conclusion: Judge Ch. Abdul Aziz concluded that the Returning Officer's rejection of Imran Khan's nomination papers was legally justified due to his conviction involving moral turpitude. The appeal was dismissed, reaffirming the necessity of strict compliance with electoral laws and moral standards for candidates.

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