SC adjourns hearing on re-election in NA-75 constituency

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday adjourned hearing of a case filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate Ali Asjad Malhi against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision over re-election in NA-75 Sialkot-IV (Daska) constituency till Friday.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah heard the petition.

During the course of proceedings, Advocate Salman Akram Raja, counsel for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Candidate Nausheen Iftikhar, said the commotion was at 40 polling stations. However, the impression was that there was a commotion in the whole constituency, he added.

Addressing the counsel, Justice Bandial said he (Salman) had informed the court that polling staff remained missing for many hours. He said 20 presiding officers were missing.

He said the court had defined lawlessness in Waheeda Shah case.

Salman Akram Raja while reading the judgment in Waheeda Shah case said if a presiding officer was harassed or pressurized, it was illegal.

He said he wanted to draw the attention of the court to the media reports and press release of the Election Commission. Media reports and Election Commission confirmed such incidents, he added.

He said in such situations, the standard of investigation for the Election Tribunal would be different from that of the Election Commission. The Election Commission was a constitutional body that conducted its own investigations, he added.

He said the order issued by the Election Commission would be used to prevent such incidents in the future. “I request the court to declare the decision of the Election Commission as effective on the basis of these two reasons,” he added.

Justice Munib Akhtar asked the counsel to tell the court how many presiding officers there were in the area under the control of police officer Omar Virk?

The counsel replied that the number of missing presiding officers in the area was eight.

Election Commission lawyer Mian Abdul Rauf presented the investigation report in court.

He said the presiding officer was required to deliver the election material in the vehicle provided by the Election Commission but immediately after the polling, the said polling staff went beyond the boundaries of the constituency. According to the information provided to the Election Commission, the polling staff went to Sialkot, he added.

Justice Munib Akhtar said the the Election Commission found out about the location later, but according to initial reports, the staff was missing.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah said the Election Commission had contact numbers of the driver, presiding officer and police officer.

The Election Commission counsel said all three numbers were powered off at that time.

Justice Sajjad said this point was very important.

The Election Commission counsel said in case of non-implementation of all the provisions of the Election Act, the election was declared null and void.

Justice Bandial said the court knew that there was firing, rioting and unrest in the constituency.

He asked did the incidents at some polling stations also affect the other polling stations where peaceful polling took place?

The Election Commission counsel said the overall impression in the constituency was unrest and re-election was ordered because of this impression.

Justice Bandial said the word impression was a dangerous concept that was also exaggerated.