Two days ahead of a rescheduled by-election in Tando Muhammad Khan’s PS-53 constituency, Waheeda Shah, previously disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), won a breather at the Sindh High Court (SHC).
A divisional bench of the SHC granted a stay against the by polls scheduled for April 26. The February 25 by-polls failed to fill the vacant seat after contender Shah was disqualified for assaulting two female election staffers at a polling station.
The seat had fallen vacant following the demise of MPA Syed Mohsin Shah Bukhari, who was Shah’s husband.
The bench comprising Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi and Justice Nisar Ahmed Shaikh also suspended the verdict of the ECP which disqualified her for two years from contesting elections and revoked the February by-poll results which were in her favour.
“The returning officer (RO) had consolidated the results and my client was unofficially declared a winner after begging 31,131 votes,” said Shah’s attorney Hyder Imam Rizvi.
The lawyer maintained that the two women who were assaulted have publicly said that the incident was a misunderstanding which had been resolved. “They submitted in their statement to the RO that they have forgiven Shah.” Rizvi also questioned the penalising of his client by the RO, who gathered 13 testimonies, which did not include one from Shah.
The stay against the polls also affect the prospects of Syed Aijaz Shah Bukhari, a cousin of late Mohsin Shah, to become MPA. He was the front-runner on a ticket of the Pakistan Peoples Party for the April 26 elections. After the death of Mohsin Shah, the name of Aijaz surfaced as the PPP candidate but Waheeda stepped in.
A visit from the acting chief election commissioner, Justice Shakirullah Jan, to Tando Muhammad Khan coincided with the SHC hearing but wrapped up before the court’s ruling. While talking to the media at the local Circuit House, he clarified that there would be no ban on media coverage of the by-election at polling stations.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.