Pakistan elections: Imran Khan out of race as court upholds rejection of nomination papers

The Election Commission had rejected Khan’s nomination papers primarily on the grounds of being convicted in the Toshakhana corruption case

By PTI

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Imran Khan. Photo: ANI file
Imran Khan. Photo: ANI file

Published: Wed 17 Jan 2024, 7:21 PM

In another jolt to Imran Khan, a Pakistani high court on Wednesday dismissed the jailed former prime minister's petitions challenging the decisions of the rejection of his nomination papers filed from two constituencies in Punjab province ahead of the February 8 general elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had rejected the nomination papers of the 71-year-old founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party from the Lahore (NA-122) and Mianwali (NA-89) constituencies.

The ECP had rejected Khan’s nomination papers primarily on the grounds of being convicted in the Toshakhana corruption case. Also, his nomination papers from NA-122 were dismissed on the grounds that the proposer was not a voter from the constituency.

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In the Toshakhana corruption case, Khan is accused of taking luxurious vehicles from the national treasury in violation of the Toshakhana or state repository rules. All gifts given by foreign leaders to Pakistani top leaders on their trips are kept in the Toshakhana.

Later, the Islamabad High Court had set aside the sentence and ordered his release. However, he was not freed as he was undergoing trial in the cipher case.

Khan’s petitions challenging the decisions of the rejection of his nomination papers were rejected by a bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, the Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday.

During the hearing, the court upheld the decisions of the appellate tribunals and rejected Khan's nomination papers, essentially excluding him from the upcoming general elections.

During the previous hearing on Tuesday, the beleaguered PTI founder's lawyer advocate Uzair Bhandari argued that the conviction on the charge of moral turpitude did not fall under the definition of disqualification. He said the conviction of the petitioner could not be equated with the conviction for corruption or accumulating illegal assets and pointed out that an Indian court enlisted the offence of moral turpitude lower than the offence involving financial corruption.

“However, the bench observed that the standards of morality in Pakistan were different from other regions,” the Dawn report said.

Bhandari argued that the returning officer (RO) had no jurisdiction to pass the impugned order on the basis of the conviction on moral turpitude. He stated that the Islamabad High Court had already suspended the sentence of the petitioner.

However, a lawyer for the ECP argued that the conviction of the petitioner was still in force and he had not been acquitted by the high court.

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