PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court dismissed all 19 petitions filed against local government re-polls and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to announce a new schedule as per its own discretion.
A division bench comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan declared the petitions non-maintainable and announced the reserved judgment after hearing arguments for two days.
Validity of polls
After announcing LG results, the commission had scheduled re-polls for July 5 on 356 polling stations across 14 districts of the province. Some of the candidates had challenged the decision with the high court. On July 3, the PHC suspended the ECP notification for re-polls and stayed the schedule till further directives.
With the dismissal of these petitions, the stay has also been vacated and the ECP has been signalled to announce another date for the re-polls. The high court order maintains the commission can fix a date for re-polls of its own accord keeping the on ground situation in mind.
Amongst the irked petitioners was PK-24, Mardan-II MPA Zahid Durrani. “The Mardan DC, also the DRO, through a letter issued on June 3 stated that in the absence of armed forces, free and fair LG elections could not be conducted,” said Mauzza Butt, counsel for Durrani, during the course of proceedings. The lawmaker had requested the court to declare the May 30 polls illegal and order re-elections in the entire province. He had also requested the court to not allow re-polls selectively at polling stations.
In his petition, Gul Khitab told the court that despite the issuance of the returned candidates [elected] notification, the ECP ordered re-polls at a female polling station in his constituency. Even though, in the said polling station, Khitab had obtained 16 votes while the runner-up got 300 votes, he was not in favour of re-polling.
Counsel for petitioner Nawaz Ali Khan, Amjid Ali, told the court his client was declared as the returned candidate and the RO had announced Nawaz received 1,651 votes while the runner-up 1,372 votes. Ali said later the DRO announced re-polls at a women’s polling station where only nine votes were cast on Election Day. “The DRO has no authority to order re-polls in any polling station,” he contended.
Meanwhile, ECP counsel Shumail Ahmad Butt said the high court has no authority to hear these petitions. “It is the sole domain of election tribunals.”
He said re-polls were ordered following reports of mismanagement, scuffles and irregularities filed by ROs and POs.
Upon hearing marathon arguments for two days, the court dismissed all 19 petitions and declared them non-maintainable.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.
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