Hoping to cling on to her electoral victory in the recent by-elections, Syeda Waheeda Shah Bukhari challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) ruling of March 6 by filing a petition in the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday. Shah disputed the ECP’s decision of March 7, which nullified the result of the by-polls in Tando Mohammad Khan, and also barred her from contesting elections for the two years.
The court, however, rejected her plea for issuing a stay order against holding by-elections in her PS-53 constituency in Tando Mohammad Khan, which is scheduled for April 26.
“The ECP has no authority to invalidate poll results and to disqualify a contestant,” said Bukhari’s counsel, advocate Jhamat Mal. He cited sections 100 and 103-A of the election laws in support of his contention. ECP members from Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa voted in favour of the decision, while Justice (retd) Roshan Esani from Sindh and the chief election commissioner, Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza, opposed it.
Bukhari shot to infamy after she assaulted members of the polling staff during by-elections on February 25. Her counsel also challenged the authority of the returning officer, Asghar Siyal, to nominate her in an FIR at the Tando Mohammad Khan police station, and subsequently fine her Rs1,000 on March 5. “He (Siyal) had a magistrate’s powers only on election day. His orders of February 27 and March 5 have no legal force,” said advocate Mal.
The divisional bench of Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi and Justice Muhammad Tasnim issued notices for March 22 to the respondents, including the ECP, provincial and district election commissioners, Siyal and Mir Mushtaq Talpur, who secured the second largest number of votes in the by-elections.
Last week, Bhukhari challenged Siyal’s case against her, as well as the Rs1,000 fine that he had imposed on her, in the district and sessions court.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2012.