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Reserved seats for those doing physical work: SC

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has held that a person engaged directly in physical work and for his subsistence reliant on physical labour qualifies to contest election on a reserved seat for ‘worker’.

“The Punjab Local Government Act, 2013 also defined ‘worker’ in Section 2 in the following words: ‘worker’ means a person directly engaged in work or is dependent on personal labour for subsistence living and includes a worker as defined in the Punjab Industrial Relations Act, 2010,” a verdict authored by Justice Faisal Arab and issued on Monday said.

The judgement came on a petition moved by Malik Abid Hussain who had contested election on a reserved seat for ‘worker’ in the municipal committee of Muzaffargarh during the local government elections.

Mr Hussain’s nomination papers for the local government elections had been rejected by the returning officer concerned on the grounds that he was not a worker since he holds a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) dealership and operates his business from a place established in the name of Malik Electro Gas Centre, Multan Road, Muzzaffargarh.

Thus, being a businessman, the petitioner was a taxpayer. He has even been elected as president of the LPG Union in Muzaffargarh.

On Oct 22, an additional district and sessions judge in Muzaffargarh, who was also the head of an election tribunal, rejected the nomination papers of the petitioner. On Oct 25, the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench upheld the decision of the election tribunal.

During the proceedings at the Supreme Court, Advocate Dil Mohammad Khan Alizai while appearing on behalf of the petitioner argued that his client’s nomination papers should not have been rejected summarily at pre-election stage and in case the petitioner was elected, the same could be challenged after the election.

The counsel argued that depriving the petitioner of his right to contest the elections in summary proceedings amounted to disenfranchising him.

The judgement held that status of the petitioner, that was made basis for rejecting his nomination papers by the appellate authority, had not been specifically denied by the petitioner neither before the high court nor in his petition in the Supreme Court.

Moreover, it said, the petitioner nowhere had denied his status of being a dealer/distributor of LPG for the Muzaffargarh tehsil. Being in the business of LPG, the petitioner also did not deny that he held the position of the president of LPG Union of Muzaffargarh that comprises of LPG traders of the city.

The petitioner, therefore, could not arrogate to himself the status of a worker as defined in the Punjab Local Government Act, 2013, the verdict said.

The court, therefore, found no legal justification to interfere with the impugned order. The petition having no merit was accordingly dismissed, the verdict explained.

Source: Dawn

Byline: Nasir Iqbal

November 22nd, 2016

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