ISLAMABAD: Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yaseen on Thursday submitted his reply to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in response to its notice for violating code of conduct for the by-election in NA-120 constituency of Lahore.
A two-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, was seized with the hearing of a complaint against the provincial minister for allegedly violating the ECP’s code of conduct.
Advocate Shehzad Shoukat submitted the reply on behalf of Yaseen, contending that the provincial minister had not violated the code of conduct. He resides in the constituency, thus he was seen in the area, he added.
To which, the CEC said there are hundreds of thousands people residing in the constituency. “We haven’t stopped anyone from going home but took notice over his running election campaign. A video showing Yaseen participating in a rally was available, remarked a member of the bench.
The bench directed the provincial minister to ensure implementation of the code of conduct for by-polls in the constituency and adjourned the hearing till Sept 14.
Earlier, ECP had warned the minister that it would issue him a show-cause notice for his disqualification if he found violating the code of conduct. It directed him to submit his reply until Sept 07.
The commission had issued notices to retired Capt Muhammad Safdar, Bilal Yasin, Pervaiz Malik, Majid Zahoor for allegedly using government machinery in violation of the code of conduct during election campaign for Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the PML-N’s candidate for the NA-120.
In its code of conduct, the ECP had restrained the PML-N leaders in federal and provincial governments from using state resources for rallying support for the party candidate.
It had warned that if any person found misusing his official position in any manner to influence the result of the election, he/she might be tried by a sessions court as contemplated under Section 95 of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) 1976, and if proved guilty, he/she could face a jail term up to two years.
The NA-120 seat fell vacant after the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif by the apex court.
It should be recalled here that a five-judge bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan on July 28 announced a landmark judgment in Panamagate case, disqualifying Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister.
Soon after the court judgement, the PM House issued a terse statement saying that Nawaz Sharif, despite having reservations on the court verdict, has stepped down from his post as the premier.
Sharif served as prime minister twice in the 1990s before he was ousted in a 1999 coup leading to a decade of exile. He won a third term as prime minister in a 2013 election.