Disposes of plea seeking nullification of Feb 8 general elections CJP Qazi Faez Isa says the state should ensure that a court-martialed person does not use the rank of brigadier

Apex Court disposes of plea seeking nullification of Feb 8 general elections while imposing Rs 0.5 million fine on the petitioner

Directs petitioner to pay fine to PBC & SCBA within 30 days, failing which they be recovered from the petitioner as arrears of land revenue

CJP Qazi Faez Isa says the state should ensure that a court-martialed person does not use the rank of brigadier

Says if it was a conspiracy that the petitioner fled the country after moving the apex court

ISLAMABAD   (  Web  News  )

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday disposed of the petition seeking re-election and annulment of the February 8, 2024 polls and imposed a fine of Rs500,000 on the petitioner over his failure to appear before the court.

The development comes as a three-member SC bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali conducted the hearing on Brigadier (retd) Ali Khan’s petition urging the apex court to annul the polls and order re-elections over alleged rigging.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the CJP inquired about the identity of the petitioner. To this, the court was apprised by the Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Amir Rehman that the applicant is a former military officer who was court-martialed in 2012 and was awarded five years rigorous imprisonment.

“The state should ensure that a court-martialed person does not use the rank of brigadier,” the chief justice remarked.

Apprising the court on the attempts to establish contact with the petitioner, the additional attorney general said that not only was the police sent to Ali Khan’s house but the Ministry of Defence also had sent a notice — which then was displayed on the gate as the petitioner was unavailable.

“Look at this petitioner [who] left the country after filing the application in the court,” the chief justice said while commenting on the former military officer’s email regarding him being out of the country.

“I have never seen this before,” CJP Isa remarked while questioning if it was a conspiracy that the petitioner fled the country after moving the apex court.

Meanwhile, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar underscored that as per the petitioner himself, he neither spoke to any media outlet nor filed the application.

Meanwhile, the chief justice read aloud an email sent to the top court by the petitioner, wherein he had stated that he was abroad and had requested to withdraw his plea. “Ali Khan has written that he could not appear before the court as he is abroad. His boarding pass, ticket and all travel documents on departing for Bahrain have been attached in the email,” the top judge noted.

“According to the documents, Ali went to Bahrain by taking a connecting flight via Doha,” Justice Isa added.

“It is strange that the petitioner filed the plea and then went abroad the next day. Our [fixation] branch has also confirmed that the email was sent by the same person,” Justice Isa remarked.

”He is a strange person; people buy a return ticket due to it being cheaper but he booked a one-way ticket. It seems that Ali Khan has done a publicity stunt by filing a petition before the Supreme Court, “ the CJP said. The SC later disposed of the plea and imposed a fine on the petitioner.

Here, PTI leader Shaukat Mahmood Basra came to the rostrum and said, “I belong to the PTI and want to say something on this case.”  Shaukat Basra said “there is a copy of the Holy Quran in my hand and I am an elected MNA of PTI from Bahawalnagar”.

However, CJP Isa directed Basra to return to his seat, noting that Basra was “neither a petitioner nor a counsel”. The court further expressed dismay at the PTI’s leader’s insistence to speak and summoned Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Barrister Muhammad Shahzad Shaukat to the rostrum.

The chief justice asked Shaukat if a case against Basra should be referred to the Bar Coucil, to which the former replied: “He (Basra) is not related to the case and should be kindly ignored.”

The CJP accepted the SCBA president’s request but warned of action if Basra “speaks about this case after exiting the court”.

While dictating the order chief justice said that learned Additional Attorney-General for Pakistan (‘AGP’) states that the representative of the Ministry of Defence went to deliver the notice at the address of the petitioner on 20 February 2024, and according to the report of the Ministry of Defence, the notice was received by Mrs. Amama Sohail, who stated that she was a family member of the petitioner; the receipt of notice by Mrs. Amama Sohail is submitted in original. Notices were also sent through the District and Session Judge, Islamabad, whose report states that the petitioner was not available at the given address. The report of the SHO of the area states that no one answered the outer door of the petitioner’s residence, therefore, notice was pasted on it; his report along with the photographs of the pasted notice is received. However, the petitioner is not in attendance nor is represented.

The order said that the Fixation Branch of this Court has informed that they had received an e-mail dated 19 February 2024, wherein the petitioner stated that ‘I am EX-Brigadier Ali Khan’ and that he had sought withdrawal of this petition by filing withdrawal application (CMA

No.1211/2024). The e-mail confirms that ‘I don’t want to pursue the said petition anymore’. The e-mail concludes by stating that ‘I deeply

CUO 18/24 3 regret any inconvenience I might have caused to the Honourable Supreme Court and seek their pardon for my inability to appear in person as I am currently out of the country. I shall be extremely grateful to the honourable Court for their magnanimity and for their kindness.’ Copies of the petitioner’s passport with exit from Pakistan stamp of FIA Immigration dated 17 February 2024, boarding pass and e-ticket have also been provided by the petitioner. The e-ticket shows that he paid Rs.162,756 on 13 February 2024 for his travel from Islamabad to Doha, Qatar, and for a connecting flight to Bahrain.

The chief justice further said in the order that the learned AGP states that the petitioner cannot refer to himself as an Ex-Brigadier because he was court martialed by the Pakistan Army for committing sedition, mutiny and insubordination in the year 2012. He was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment and was released after serving out four years of his sentence as he was granted remissions. The learned AGP further states that the petitioner was stripped of his rank, which he can no longer use and the normal benefits which would accrue to a retired officer were not given to him.

The order further states that the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, learned Muhammad Shahzad Shaukat, is present in Court and was asked to assist the Court. He submitted that the given facts and circumstances of the case constitutes abuse of the process of the

Court and it should be ensured that this should not take place in future and therefore this petition should be dismissed with exemplary costs of one million rupees.

The order said that the petitioner did not disclose the fact of being court martialed and mentions the rank which he held before being court martialed. He misused the rank which he had previously held in the Pakistan Army which he could not do so. The petitioner must have used his rank to attract publicity and to ensure that the contents of his petition are widely broadcast in the media and published in newspapers. And after having achieved such purpose, the petitioner immediately bought a ticket (on 13 February 2024) to catch a flight out of the country. The usual practice is to buy a return ticket, but the petitioner bought a one-way ticket. He also did not disclose when he will return to Pakistan. The petitioner also did not disclose the reason for his sudden departure from Pakistan nor why he had to go to Bahrain. It is also not disclosed why, just one day after filing the petition, he sought its withdrawal. The petitioner’s conduct demonstrates that he wants to undermine the credibility of constitutional bodies, which is neither in the citizens nor in the country’s interest.

The order further state that this petition has also consumed valuable court time, which is to be spent on deciding the cases of genuine litigants; not use the media for ulterior and nefarious purposes. The petitioner got prominent coverage and then the petition was abandoned and the petitioner left the country. Responsible media will undoubtedly want to disclose this order and the petitioner’s conduct to redress the damage done.

The order further states that the application for withdrawal of the petition (CMA No.1211/2024) is allowed and the petition (C.U.O.No.18/2024) is dismissed as withdrawn with costs of five hundred thousand rupees which are directed to be paid equally to the Pakistan Bar Council and to the Supreme Court Bar Association within 30 days, failing which they be recovered from the petitioner as arrears of land revenue. We trust that the Government of Pakistan will be ensuring that the petitioner does not use the rank of a Brigadier or Ex or former Brigadier with his name.