KARACHI: The election commission and its officials have the authority to take action at any stage during or after the elections if polling or the election process is hindered in any way, argued Munir Paracha, the lawyer for Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) before the Sindh High Court on Monday.
He was presenting his arguments before Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Aftab Ahmed Gorar.
Paracha had flown in from Islamabad to argue the petition filed by the ECP challenging the order of Hyderabad District and Sessions Judge who had acquitted Waheeda Shah. She had contested by-elections from PS-53, and had been disqualified for slapping a poll staff.
Paracha referred to Section 86-A of the Peoples Representation Act and said that if any attempt is made by anyone to halt, hinder or effect the result of elections in any manner, then the ECP can take action at any time so that the violation is brought into the notice of the election authorities.
Earlier, Haider Imam Rizvi, Waheeda Shah’s counsel, had challenged the order of the returning officer and the three-member ECP committee, who had endorsed the order, of Shah’s disqualification. Rizvi had argued that after the elections are over and the polling officer signs the “Form 16”, which is the unofficial result or the votes secured by the candidate, the elections become a closed chapter.
But Paracha defended the returning officer’s order and said that it was lawful.
When the bench asked about the statements of all the 13 witnesses who had recorded their statements in Shah’s absence, Paracha said that he did not want to count on these statements and requested the court that they may be ignored. He was still on his feet when the bench adjourned.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.