Rejection of Nomination Papers Over Joint Bank Account


a silver credit card sitting on top of a table
a silver credit card sitting on top of a table

In a recent judgment, the Lahore High Court's Bahawalpur Bench upheld the Returning Officer’s decision to reject the nomination papers of Mrs. Rizwana Nawaz and Mr. Shaukat Mahmood for failing to comply with specific electoral requirements. This decision underscores the strict interpretation of election laws regarding the financial transparency of candidates.

Key Areas:

Reason for Rejection: The Returning Officer rejected the nomination papers of Mrs. Rizwana Nawaz and Mr. Shaukat Mahmood on December 30, 2023, due to their failure to declare an exclusive personal bank account for election expenses. Instead, they declared a joint account, which did not meet the statutory requirements outlined in Section 60(2)(b) of the Elections Act, 2017, as amended.

Legal Requirements: Section 60(2)(b) mandates that candidates must open an exclusive account or dedicate an existing one for election expenses and attach a statement of this account with their nomination papers. This requirement ensures that election expenses are transparent and within the legal limits set by Section 132 of the Act.

Court's Analysis: The court highlighted that the legislative intent behind the requirement is to ensure individual accountability for election expenses. It referenced the amendments made by the Elections (Second Amendment) Act, 2023, which emphasize the need for a separate account to facilitate the Election Commission of Pakistan in monitoring and verifying compliance with expenditure limits.

Failed Compliance: The appellants argued that the provision should not be mandatory and that their joint account should suffice. However, the court disagreed, noting that the law explicitly requires an individual account. Furthermore, attempts to rectify the issue by submitting new applications after the scrutiny period were dismissed as they did not fulfill the criteria set by Section 60 of the Act.

Conclusion: Judge Sultan Tanvir Ahmad concluded that the appellants did not comply with the legal requirements, and their subsequent attempts to amend the nomination papers were untimely and insufficient. Therefore, the court upheld the Returning Officer's decision to reject their nominations.

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