IHC stays re-election of Khushab District Chief, Deputy
Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court on Monday stayed a decision of the Election Commission that had annulled election of former federal minister and PML-N candidate Sumaira Malik as Chairperson of the District Khushab. The IHC has also sought reply from the ECP and other respondents by January 17. The Election Commission Dec 28 had annulled her election as chairperson by a majority vote of three to one. The ECP had based its decision on the complaint by her opponent(s) that one of the voters had flaunted his ballot paper at the time of polling.
The ECP bench that heard the case was headed by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (R) Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan and comprised Abdul Ghaffar Soomro (from Sindh), Justice (R) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi (Punjab) and Justice (R) Shakeel Ahmed Baloch (Balochistan). Justice (R) Qureshi dissented with the majority decision.
On Monday counsel for Sumaira Malik, Advocate Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri argued that the Election Commission was the appropriate forum to hear a matter related to the election of district council. Election tribunal, he said was the forum which should have first heard the matter and the ECP could also direct the complainant to first go there. Advocate Jahangiri argued before the court that a dissident group of the PML-N had filed a petition that one of the voters had flaunted his ballot paper and the ECP accepted his petition, which is a departure from the legal course.
It may be mentioned that ECP had observed in its Dec 28 short order that “For the reasons to be recorded separately and with a majority of three to one, the petition is accepted. The election dated 22nd December, 2016, for the seat of Chairman/Vice Chairman, District Council Khushab is set aside and it is hereby directed that the re-poll be conducted for which the schedule be issued by the office.”
The petitioner Ameer Haider Sangha first took up the matter with the returning officer for Khushab, Abdul Hameed Khan Sambhal, who had observed in his order that the matter should have been settled when it had occurred.
However, Justice Minallah after hearing Advocate Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri set aside the ECP’s order and directed the respondents to file their reply by Jan 17, the next date of hearing.