HYDERABAD: The Election Commission and the Provincial Election Commissioner (PEC) defended themselves in the Sindh High Court for penalising Wahida Shah Bukhari, the by-polls contestant in PS-53 constituency of the Sindh Assembly.
In their replies submitted through the deputy attorney general (DAG), Muhammad Ali Sheikh, to the Hyderabad circuit bench on Thursday, they cited sections 100 and 103 AA of Representation of Peoples Act, 1976, to justify the Election Commission verdict.
The poll body disqualified Bukhari from contesting elections for two years and also nullified the by-election results which she had unofficially won. She was accused of assaulting the polling staff during the February 25 by-polls.
“The action of slapping and disturbance falls within the scope of corrupt practice and relevant provisions of law were applied while deciding the matter by majority,” said the PEC, Sono Khan Baloch.
Section 100 of the act refers to the power of a tribunal to disqualify a candidate for up to five years on account of certain offences. Section 103 AA empowers the commission to declare a poll void on the basis of ‘facts apparent on the face of the record’.
Baloch also justified the summary trial by the Returning Officer (RO) Asghar Ali Siyal. “Enormous evidence was collected and rightly evaluated by the RO, culminating in Bukhari’s conviction.”
The DAG also questioned the maintainability of the petition filed by Bukhari. The petitioner’s counsel, advocate Hyder Imam Rizvi, argued that there is no evidence on record that underpins the judgment of the ECP. He asked the bench to stay the April 26 by-elections in PS-53 constituency by restoring the results of the February 25 by-polls and for setting aside the ECP’s disqualification verdict.
However, the bench of Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbassi and Justice Nisar Ahmed Shaikh declined the stay plea and adjourned the hearing till April 24 when the DAG and Additional Advocate General will argue their case.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.