The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has asked the inquiry commission probing the allegations of widespread rigging in the 2013 general elections to examine the returning officers’ role in the polls.
“It has become essential for the commission to seek a report from every RO of each NA and PA constituency on whether or not they had complied with the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),” states a six-page application submitted by PTI’s counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada to the three-judge panel on Saturday.
The party also wants the ROs to submit evidence of their compliance, and in case they had failed to conform to the directives, the reasons for their omission.
The PTI believes that such further inquiry is warranted in view of the evidence and material already on record and that the result of this probe is related to the panel’s questionnaire asking the political parties if the polls were “systematically” rigged and, if so, to identify the perpetrators.
According to the ECP-approved Action Plan for Printing of Ballot Papers for the General Elections 2013, the ROs “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 Imran Khan-led party told the panel, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, that this directive was a crucial safeguard regarding the 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 the ROs, coupled with the fact that the average voter turnout during the polls was 55 per cent,” said the party’s application.
“Though the ‘adversarial’ component of the proceedings has been substantially concluded, the ‘inquisitorial’ component is still under way.”
The PTI has also requested the inquiry commission to summon the polling records of 35 constituencies and examine the ballots declared to be rejected so as to ascertain the validity of the claim.
Pirzada said “rejected votes” was one of the devices employed to manipulate and alter the true results of the elections.
He submitted a table of 35 National Assembly constituencies, where the number of rejected votes exceeds the margin of victory.
According to the breakdown, 15 of the constituencies are in Punjab, seven in Balochistan, five each in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and three in Fata. The PTI also pleaded the commission to direct NADRA to examine the thumb impressions on the counterfoils of the ballot books of each of the 35 constituencies.
The party claimed that Section 39(1) of the Representation of the People’s Act 1976 was violated across the country.
The section states that the RO “shall give the contesting candidates and their election agents a notice in writing of the day, time and place fixed for the consolidation of the results, and, in the presence of such of the contesting candidates and election agents as may be present consolidate in the prescribed manner the results of the count furnished by the presiding officers.”
The PTI’s application also said: “From examination of some of the ROs summoned at the request of the PML-Q, it has transpired that rejected ballot paper packets were not opened and examined by the ROs during the consolidation process, which also warrants further inquiry.”
To date, Pirzada said, PTI has received 40 NADRA analysis reports in respect of various NA and PA constituencies.
NADRA officials prepared a detailed report called a ‘pre-scan report’, which is a comprehensive inventory of the election materials received by the authority. The party, therefore, requested the commission to undertake further inquiry into this aspect by calling for all pre-scan reports to determine the extent of missing polling materials.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2015.
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