SC again turns down PTI plea against Daska re-polls

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Staff Reporter
Islamabad

The Supreme Court on Friday once again turned down a request to declare the Election Commission of Pakistan’s order of re-polling in the NA-75 Daska by-elections ‘illegal’.

The request was rejected by a three-member bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while hearing a plea regarding the NA-75 Daska by-polls filed by a PTI leader.

Last month, the PTI candidate who stood for election in the NA-75 by-poll on February 19, Ali Asjad Malhi, had gone to the Supreme Court to appeal the ECP’s order for fresh elections in the NA-75 Sialkot-IV constituency.

The decision to contest the order was taken after the ECP announced re-polling in the entire constituency after concluding that “the election in the subject constituency has not been conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in a transparent manner”.

Justice Bandial, in the hearing, noted that the ECP had ordered re-election over code of conduct violations.

He also noted that the ECP took its decision on the basis of a report which stated that 20 presiding officers had gone missing after the polling concluded as well as the violence witnessed in Daska on polling day.

“The presiding officers switched their phones off and disappeared together. All the disappearing presiding officers suddenly appeared together in the morning. Did all the presiding officers disappear and go for breakfast?” wondered Justice Bandial.

Meanwhile, the PTI lawyer told the bench that the ECP had declared the elections “controversial” on the basis of one DSP’s case, adding that under the Election Act’s Section 9 the ECP should have ordered an inquiry instead.

However, Justice Bandial responded that declaring null and void was an administrative decision and that such decisions need to be taken “immediately”. However, the PTI candidate’s lawyer maintained that an inquiry was still needed even if it was an
administrative decision.

The court in its last hearing had asked the ECP to provide details for the costs borne by the ECP for carrying out an election on a single National Assembly constituency.

When the ECP’s director general law appeared before the bench, he told the court that Rs10.9 million are spent on average on carrying out an election on a single National Assembly constituency.

At this, Justice Bandial asked the ECP official to check the figure again as the expenses seemed too low. “Rs10.9 million must be a single candidate’s expense,” observed the judge.

He added that it was pertinent to know whether the elections were transparent, fair and as per the law. At this, the PTI candidate’s lawyer requested the bench to declare the ECP order illegal till the trial ends but the court rejected the request.

However Justice Bandial said there was no reason to declare the order “illegal”. He added that the bench will deliberate on what to do next in the upcoming hearing.

“We respect constitutional institutions but the law was not followed in the Daska elections,” observed the judge. He also wondered that if aerial firing was such a big issue that it
necessitated a re-election.

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