LAHORE: The returning officers cannot reject nomination papers of candidates for election to the union councils on grounds that those proposing and endorsing their names are not registered as voters in the union council or ward concerned, the Lahore High Court ruled on Tuesday.
Justice Ibad-ur-Rehman Lodhi gave the directive accepting several identical petitions against rejection of nomination papers as well as appeals against the rejection.
The order set aside the impugned orders of the returning officers so that nominations of the affected candidates stand accepted.
It said rejection of papers on grounds that those proposing and endorsing a candidate’s name were registered voters in another ward in the same union council was both illegal and unconstitutional.
The judge observed that the returning officers and the appellate authorities had failed to understand the spirit and legislative intent of the law regarding proposal and endorsement of a candidate’s nomination papers.
He said the section 27 of the Punjab Local Government Act of 2013 discussed criteria for qualifications and disqualifications of candidates for elected offices. Under the section, those proposing and endorsing a candidate’s name were not required to be registered as voters in the ward where he was contesting the election, he said.
The order said that under Rule 12 (2) of the Punjab Local Government (Conduct of Elections) those proposing and endorsing a candidate could be registered as voters either in the union council or the ward concerned.
The judge referred to SM Zafar’s book Understanding Statutes: Canons of Construction and said that the word or (in union council or ward) used in the rule meant there those proposing and endorsing someone’s candidature did not need to be registered as voters in the ward concerned.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2015.