Top court puts off Daska re-election

Supreme Court says more time needed to decide the case


Our Correspondent March 25, 2021
Supreme Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court on Thursday postponed the NA-75 (Daska) constituency re-election, which was scheduled to take place on April 10, saying that more time was needed to decide the case.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial told Salman Akram Raja, the lawyer representing PML-N candidate Nosheen Iftikhar, that he had raised important points during the hearing.

“The court is postponing the April 10 re-election for now so the arguments of all the respondents could be heard,” added the judge, who is heading a three-member bench hearing a petition filed by PTI candidate Ali Asjad Malhi.

Justice Bandial said apart from the Election Commission of Pakistan, other parties would also have to be heard now.

The court later adjourned the hearing of the case indefinitely.

During the proceedings, Raja presented a complete map of Daska district before the court.

“There are 76 polling stations in Daska city,” the lawyer said, adding that complaints came from 34 polling stations.

“The ECP identified 34 polling stations and 20 presiding officers were also missing,” he further informed the bench.

Justice Bandial noted that voting at 10 polling stations was suspended for a long time.

“Who and what kept creating these problems on the polling day?” the judge asked.

The lawyer told the judge that his client’s father had been elected five times from Daska and her family had more influence in the constituency.

“Nosheen Iftikhar had 46,000 votes from Daska city while PTI candidate had 11,000 votes,” he added.

Justice Bandial observed that there were reports of PML-N activists' involvement in violence and the party had no qualms over the results.

Raja pointed out that a petition was filed with the ECP against the election results, adding that the turnout was traditionally higher in Daska than in other areas.

Justice Bandial told the lawyer that he had to convince the court why re-election was necessary in the entire constituency on the complaint of 23 polling stations.

The PML-N candidate's counsel replied that complaints were received from half of the polling stations in the constituency.

To this, Justice Muneeb Akhtar said the voters of 76 polling stations did not make up half of the constituents.

“I am sorry, the voters of 76 polling stations make up one third,” the counsel replied. “Presiding officers went out with the police as usual. They came back together and were scared.”

The ECP had earlier declared the by-poll held on February 19 in the constituency void and ordered a fresh election on March 18 which was last rescheduled to take place on April 10.

The ECP issued a short order, signed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and four commission members, Justice (retd) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi, Justice (retd) Mrs Irshad Qaisar, Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhamad Jatoi.

The ECP said the election in the constituency had not been conducted in a transparent manner, incidents of murders, firing and injuries, bad law and order situation and other circumstances led to the whole process being doubtful.

Last week, the apex court rejected the PTI's plea seeking suspension of the ECP's decision to hold re-election in NA-75 (Daska).

Justice Bandial noted that the ECP had ordered the re-polling in the constituency over violation of law. He said that as per the details provided, 20 presiding officers were missing until the next morning.

Moreover, the top court observed, all the confrontation took place in the urban areas of the constituency.

The judge maintained that the detailed decision of the ECP and their response were of significant importance.

Earlier on March 16, the SC had rejected PTI's NA-75 candidate Malhi's plea seeking the suspension of the ECP's order.

The judge had stated that he respected the constitutional institution and could not suspend its orders, but court would decide whether it should be held in the entire constituency or at a few polling stations.

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