The Sindh High Court (SHC) called on Tuesday comments from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on various petitions challenging the results for different National and provincial assembly seats that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidates won in the elections.
Karim Ali Jatoi had taken ECP’s secretary, provincial election commission, the District Returning Officer (DRO) and the Returning Officer (RO) of NA-232, to court. Jatoi, who belongs to Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), claimed he won the seat but the results were changed later.
According to ECP, Karim Jatoi had secured 56,800 votes while his rival, PPP’s Sardar Rafiq Ahmed Jamali, secured 76,849 votes. The petitioner accused Jamali of rigging and pleaded the court to restrain ECP from announcing the winner till the plea’s disposal. The bench issued notices to ECP, the DRO, RO and the deputy attorney general to file their comments.
In another petition, Arif Mustafa Jatoi, who lost PS-22 in Naushero Feroze to PPP’s Abdul Sattar Paracha, accused him of rigging. Arif Jatoi claimed he had won on May 11 by a large margin but the DRO had called him four days later, telling him Paracha had edged him out by 57 votes. The petitioner accused the DRO of manipulating the results. He added that he lodged a complaint but the DRO refused to entertain it. Arif Jatoi then pleaded with the court to order a recount.
After the hearing, the bench issued notices to a number of people, including ECP officials and the deputy attorney general, for filing their comments. In separate petition, Dr Banda Ali Leghari, who lost PS-75 in Dadu to PPP’s Syed Ghulam Ali Jilani, pleaded the court to order National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to verify votes through thumb impressions.
Leghari claimed that armed men working for Jilani fired rounds in the air outside polling stations, preventing people from voting. Jilani’s men stamped the ballots and stuffed the ballot boxes themselves.
The petitioner said that under Sections 130-AA of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976, he had moved an application with the election commission, requesting a recount and voter verification.
He urged to the court to bar the ECP from declaring the winner for the seat until his application is looked at. The bench decided to give ECP two weeks to decide.
Another petitioner, Syed Zainun Abedien Shah, a Sindh United Party candidate, claimed PPP’s Ghulam Qadir Jatoi had won PS-27 by harassing voters and rigging. Shah, who himself was vying for the seat, said Ghulam Jatoi’s supporters openly stuffed ballot boxes after snatching ballot papers from voters. The DRO refused to take action, Shah claimed. He pleaded the court to restrain ECP from announcing the winner for PS-27 until a decision was made on his application for a recount.
After the hearing, the bench issued notices to ECP and deputy attorney general for filing comments by May 31.
In yet another petition, Ebrahim Jatoi, claimed that he had won NA-202, but the RO has ordered a recount on the complaint of the rival candidate, PPP’s Aftab Shaaban Mirani. Ebrahim said he had won by a margin of 1,721 votes. But the RO – without providing him an opportunity for a hearing – issued orders on May 13 and May 18 for recounting, which he claimed was illegal. Ebrahim feared that the results might be changed and pleaded with the court to quash the orders for a recount.
Another petitioner, Zulfiqar Ali Kamario, who claimed to have won PS-9, also asked for a recount. He alleged the rival contender, PPP’s Agha Siraj Durrani, used his influence in the district to rig the election.
The bench ordered that the final outcome of the recounting for NA-202 and PS-9 would be subject to the final decision to be passed on the two high court petitions.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate Hafizuddin’s victory from PS-93 has also been challenged. His rival, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Abdul Razaq claimed Hafizuddin won by rigging.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2013.