PTI demands judicial commission probe role of ROs in rigging May 2013 elections

Published: June 13, 2015
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PTI submits application to special judicial commission. PHOTO: AFP

PTI submits application to special judicial commission. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf (PTI) on Saturday filed an application wherein they demanded, for the first time, that a special inquiry commission probe the role of Returning Officers (ROs) in rigging the May 2013 general elections.

“In view of this factual position, it has become essential that the Commission undertake further enquiry by seeking a report from each Returning Officer of each National Assembly (NA) and each Provincial Assembly (PA) constituency in the 2013 general elections on whether or not the concerned RO complied with the directions of the Election Commission of Pakistan in the Action Plan for Printing of Ballot Papers for the General Elections 2013 and if so the evidence of such compliance and if not the reasons for the omission or failure to comply with the same”, says the six page application submitted by PTI’s counsel Abdul Hafiz Pirzada to the inquiry commission.

The PTI believes that such an inquiry is warranted and appropriate in view of the evidence pertaining to open ballot bags and missing form-15s. They hope that the inquiry will unearth the alleged nexus with the questions set out in Sections 3(a) to 3(c) of the Ordinance, wherein it is stated that “whether or not: (a) the 2013 general elections were organised and conducted impartially, honestly, fairly, justly and in accordance with law; and the results of the 2013 general elections, on an overall basis, are a true and fair reflection of the mandate given by the electorate. “

“The Action Plan for Printing of Ballot Papers for the General Elections 2013 (“Action Plan”) as approved by the Election Commission of Pakistan (“ECP”) which has not been revised or amended by the ECP, inter alia, prescribes a specific direction in paragraph 5(xiii) thereof requiring that: the returning officers shall carefully consolidate the result and shall tally the ballot paper account drawn by the Presiding Officer and the result of the count with that of packing invoice of each polling station”

The PTI submitted that this direction was in furtherance of Article 218(3) of the Constitution and is a crucial safeguard regarding sanctity of the ballot.

“It is a matter of record that in a vast majority of constituencies ballot papers well in excess of the total number of registered voters, were printed and delivered to Returning Officers coupled with the fact that [according to ECP itself] the  average voter turnout during the 2013 GE was 55%”

The application, while presenting PTI’s data on missing form-15, says that though the ‘adversarial’ component of the proceedings has been substantially concluded but the ‘inquisitorial’ component of the proceedings is still continuing.

Meanwhile, the PTI has also requested the inquiry commission to summon the polling records of 35 constituencies and examine the ballots which had been rejected to ascertain the validity and correctness of their rejection.

“It is submitted that ‘rejected votes’ was one of the devices employed to manipulate and alter the true results of the 2013 General Elections,” the PTI application said.

The PTI said that in these constituencies, the number of rejected votes exceed the margin of victory. According to the table, there are five constituencies from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, three from FATA, 15 from Punjab, five from Sindh and seven from Balochistan, where ‘rejection of votes’ was used to usurp PTI’s mandate.

“In 35 constituencies, the number of rejected votes is substantial and, therefore, the possibility of malpractices and illegalities or manipulation cannot be ruled out,” says the application.

Further, the PTI referred to section 39(1) of the 1976 Act, which prescribes a mandatory requirement that the Returning Officer of each constituency must give the contesting candidates and their election agents a notice in writing of the day time and place fixed for consolidation of results and the consolidation of results is required to be undertaken in the presence of the contesting candidates and election agents that may be present.

It is stated that this provision is a key safeguard to promote transparency and fairness of the election result compilation and consolidation process. This safeguard, PTI claimed, had been violated on a wise scale by the ROs.

“From examination of some of the Returning Officers summoned at the request of the PML-Q it has transpired that rejected ballot paper packets were not opened and examined by the Returning Officers during the consolidation process which also warrants further enquiry by the Commission as this is a mandatory requirement under Section 38(3) of the 1976 Act. These votes may become decisive where the winning margins are narrow”

The PTI also pleaded the commission to consider directing NADRA to verify thumb impressions on the counterfoils of ballot books in each of these 35 constituencies.

The application further states that, to-date, the PTI has received 40 NADRA analysis reports from various NA and PA constituencies.

“As part of the Standard Operating Procedure established by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) prior to preparation of the NADRA Analysis Reports, NADRA officials prepare a detailed report called the “Pre-Scanning Report” which is a comprehensive inventory of the election material actually received by it. This “Pre-Scanning Report” records the precise contents of each sealed polling bag at the time it is opened by NADRA officials”, says the application.

The PTI, therefore, requested the commission to undertake further enquiry into this aspect by calling for all Pre-Scanning Reports prepared by NADRA to-date to examine the extent of missing polling material (especially missing electoral rolls and counterfoils).

It is also pointed out the commission due to financial constraints and time factor, only a minority of the cases before Election Tribunals are referred to NADRA for Forensic examination.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • H Chaudhry
    Jun 13, 2015 - 10:47PM

    Please some where some how find me a pattern of organized rigging, so cries the PTI. After Form 15 massive flop where every party had missing form 15s, the organized rigging theory is all but dead! The final report will be, We cant determine any organized rigging. There are many irregularities that should be fixed, clase closed. Hoping by 2018 things are better.Recommend

  • Ranjha
    Jun 13, 2015 - 11:26PM

    Imran Niazi has put both his feet on Butt Brothers cajones and applying full pressure. The extreme pain and discomfort is visible on the ashened faced of darbaris.

    Amazing work Imran. Godspeed and press a bit more.Recommend

  • Khalid Saeed
    Jun 14, 2015 - 12:07AM

    This is first time in the election history of Pakistan where the role of administrative officer such as returning officers, have been brought into light keeping in view the hue and cry made by political parties after every general elections. This is the time to check the role of these officers and should be brought them to justice, if they are found to breach the code of conduct established by CEC of Pakistan. This is a historical move which hopefully will pave away for free an fair elections in future.Recommend

  • Kamran Maqbool
    Jun 14, 2015 - 12:17AM

    The summation of irregularities are called rigging so the massive rigging has been proved and now the time is to bring the culprits into the court of law to save the nation from the future brutality of the political jugglers.Recommend

  • Ranjha
    Jun 14, 2015 - 12:18AM

    @H Chaudhry:

    We cant determine any organized rigging

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

    Upton Sinclair

    Don’t worry, no one has asked third generation darbaris to determine anything — the JC will determine it. You just keep your wishful thinking alive about 2018.

    A tout a l’heure!Recommend

  • Fawad Gilani
    Jun 14, 2015 - 12:24AM

    @Ranjha:
    U Turn Khan will make a U turn soon and the pressure will go away. By the way he also accused GEO for rigging elections, the Judiciary of rigging elections, Najam Sethi of rigging elections. WHose Next? “Mother Teresa rigged the Pakistani elections” Imran Niazi will sayRecommend

  • ss
    Jun 14, 2015 - 12:52AM

    I thought all the evidence was given and the case was made. This looks like they haven’t even started yet. They are still in an exploratory stage to understand what has happened and how it happened. We have been wasting our time and money for 2 months because of the whims and delusions of a spoilt child. Recommend

  • Proud Pakistani
    Jun 14, 2015 - 2:37AM

    @Ranjha: Singh please stop praising dead horse.Recommend

  • Proud Pakistani
    Jun 14, 2015 - 2:40AM

    @Ranjha:
    Sir right is heavy sir left is heavy Sir Gee you are great!!! For God sake leave the dead old horse there’s nothing left in him except crying.Recommend

  • bilal
    Jun 14, 2015 - 5:48AM

    Pathetic nooras. 11 million extra ballots. No form 15 (nor form 14) and people still ask where is the proof !Recommend

  • H Chaudhry
    Jun 14, 2015 - 7:24AM

    Pathetic and really sorry state of mind for younthians and PTI. Extra ballots have been printed since 1985, how is it Organized Rigging? Where is the patter? Form 15 is missing from various locations with biggest beneficiary being PTI and MQW. Where is Organized rigging here and how come PMLN did organized rigging to get form 15s missing from PTI won seats. Sorry this is done! Its finished. Theories have fallen flat on the face. Whether you like it or not, accept it or not, there will be no NOTHING against PMLN (right fully so). Lesson for every one, think before you speak. Dont make allegations and dont lie. 35 Punctures is a great story to tell how and why not to lie!Recommend

  • excalibur
    Jun 14, 2015 - 7:44AM

    If someone is still in denial of an organized rigging having been proved beyond a shadow of any doubt then he would also believe that George Bush is the Chief Justice of Pakistan PeriodRecommend

  • H Chaudhry
    Jun 14, 2015 - 10:56PM

    @Ranjha Here is a guaranttee, a promise if you will, some thing you can take it to bank! The next general elections will be in 2018, JC will determine there is no organized rigging but lot of irregularities that are happening since 1970 and time to fix and recommend government to make fixes for 2018. If that does not happen I will stop posting for ever. That is a promise. I know the law that much to deduce where its going which is no where.Recommend

  • S Idris
    Jun 17, 2015 - 3:44PM

    @ H Chaudry You seem to be making judgements and conclusuions without having understood a single iota of whats going on. Its not a case of over printing of ballots its regarding the story behind it:the over printing for instance 1) Why did ECP say it never printed extra ballots, then they said 1 million, then 5 million, and then finally admitted once it was proved they had 2) The volume of extra ballets (11 million in tottal) 3) Why did most of the extra ballots only directed to the high profile PMLN candidates (Saad Rafique, Captain Safdar, Hamza Shabaz, Speaker Saab, etc). This in itself is damning, not only rigging but systematic rigging. But hey, lets wait for the verdict before passing judgement.Recommend

  • H Chaudhry
    Jun 17, 2015 - 11:03PM

    @S Idris Actually you probably do not have an iota of understanding what is going on but for starters, extra ballots have been printing since 1985 with no rhyme or reason, further 12 seats out of house of 372 can not show any systematic rigging when there are over 95 seats where PTI lost deposits but even further and that is where PMLN is cunningly outplaying PTI is that even if there is some shadow of some system in 12 seats, PMLN will bring up Shah Mahmood, several MQM and PPP / PTI seats where extra ballots were sent and forms 15 missing, very easily refuting any systematic approach. I guess how can a systematic approach to get PMLN elected also get its arch rivals in MQM/PPP/PTI also benefit. Essentially the 12 seat sub group is last ditch effort for PTI and for PMLN is perfect Ploy to get them encircled. The Systematic rigging is all but over with Form 15 discoveries which is relevant and evident in seats won by every party. This is NOT SYSTEMATIC rigging but irregularity which may because of low educated, low paid ECP workers, not enough training, god knows what but Systematic Rigging claim is all but over.

    Further, the JC is not authorized to make a VERDICT, it will be making a set of recommendations and findings. Govt will than take necessary actions. The dissolution of assemblies only will happen if there are two conditions met with and and not or. Those are if there is Systematic Rigging AND if the systematic rigging is done by PMLN. Read Terms of Reference.

    I am actually quite trained in common law though not an attorney. This is classic case and classic example by PMLN lawyers how to completely derail the proceedings. Not a good thing but PTI with its allegations on Ramday, 35 punctures, etc etc etc that they could not prove made them LIAR and Doubtful in eyes of Judges at the begining.

    In any case, you are welcome not to believe any thing, I stand by my Guarranttee that next elections will be in 2018, JC findings will be in conclusive and will ask Govt to make ECP better. That is a Promise!

    Please publish….Recommend

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