Judge refuses to hear case on candidature of Sharif brothers

June 21st, 2008 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 21 (IANS) A judge of the Lahore High Court has refused to hear a case against the poll candidature of former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif after a lawyer objected to the panel of judges. Senior judge and head of the bench Justice Hasnat Ahmed Khan has refused to hear the case and recommended to the Chief Justice of the high court that a new bench be constituted. This comes days ahead of the June 26 by-poll that Nawaz Sharif is set to contest.

The Sharifs had refused to plead their case in front of judges who had taken oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order brought in by President Pervez Musharraf. But now some lawyers have appeared in court, objecting to the presence of two of the three judges on the bench.

Lawyer Khwaja Mahmood said: “I think these judges who are related to Nawaz Sharif’s opponents cannot do justice and the bench should not hear the case.”

He said that one of the judges was a relative of opposition leader Pervez Elahi and another had worked as an assistant to former law minister Khalid Ranjha who is considered to be a close associate of Musharraf.

The Sharifs who returned to the country in December last year after almost eight years in exile in Saudi Arabia and Britain could not contest the Feb 18 general elections in Pakistan as several rival candidates filed objections to their candidature. But their papers were cleared by the Election Commission for the June 26 by-polls that Nawaz Sharif is contesting.

Shahbaz Sharif has already been elected unopposed to the Punjab Assembly and later was elected as chief minister of the province. He has already taken oath, but some rival candidates have still filed cases in the high court against the candidature of the brothers.

One of the cases pertains to a petition filed against Nawaz Sharif’s candidature by a member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) - that was in power before the Feb 18 elections - on the ground that the former prime minister had in the past been convicted in a plane hijacking case. The incident occurred on the October 1999 night when Sharif’s government was toppled in a coup by Pervez Musharraf.

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