The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is currently spearheading agitation against the government over allegations of rigging in last year’s general elections, has lost a seat in the Sindh Assembly as the election tribunal disqualified the party’s elected candidate over poll irregularities.
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) had challenged the victory of the PTI candidate on the provincial assembly constituency, PS-93, from Karachi.
The tribunal, headed by a former judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC), Zafar Ahmed Khan Sherwani, directed its office to communicate the verdict to the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue a notification in the gazette in this regard.
PTI’s Syed Hafeezuddin was declared the returned candidate with 15,432 votes against the JI’s Abdul Razzak, who managed to secure 10,960 votes on May 11. Razzak had later challenged the results before the election tribunal in Karachi.
During the trial proceedings, he argued that the returned candidate had managed to obtain different vote counts from the presiding officers at seven polling stations (Nos. 2, 18, 23, 29, 32, 55 and 68) in the PS-93 constituency.
The petitioner claimed that the presiding officers had provided the results on pieces of paper to his agents, which showed that he had a clear lead over the returned candidate. When the consolidated results were announced, it had reduced his lead by increasing the votes of the returned candidate.
Razzak further alleged that 463 votes cast in his favour were reduced by the returning officer at the time of consolidation of results of polling stations Nos. 29, 32, 68, 71 and 77. At the same time 5,538 votes of the returned candidate were increased at the same polling stations.
The petitioner’s lawyer said that, under Section 68 of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976, the result of the returned candidate should be declared void while the petitioner was entitled to be declared the returned candidate under Section 69 of the Act.
To support his claim, the petitioner produced witnesses, who included five presiding officers as well as four polling agents. His primary attack was on the integrity and competence of the presiding officers, especially of polling station No. 29, Safia Sultana Malik, who has shown in her statement of count the votes cast in favour of the returned candidate as 1,400, whereas the petitioner’s name was not mentioned.
Citing another example, the petitioner recalled that the presiding officer at polling station No. 32 had at one point shown that he was leading by 94 votes, but the consolidated results showed that he had clinched only eight votes at the station.
The JI candidate claimed that Hafeezuddin had sought illegal assistance of government officials to manage his victory.
Returned candidate, Syed Hafeezuddin, denied the allegations, claiming that theelections were held peacefully.
The tribunal’s head, Zafar Ahmed Khan Sherwani, wrote in the judgment: “The upshot of the above discussion is that the petition is allowed. The election of the returned candidate is declared void under Section 68 of the Act.” He ordered his office staff to inform the ECP to issue a notification in the official gazette in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2014.