SC stays re-polling in NA-75 Daska constituency

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed re-polling in NA-75 Daska constituency that was scheduled to be held on April 10.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last month voided the by-election held in NA-75 on February 19 and ordered re-election in the entire constituency.

A three-member SC bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Munib Akhtar heard the petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Asjad Ali Malhi seeking suspension of the ECP decision to hold re-polls in NA-75 Sialkot-IV (Daska).

The petitioner pleaded that the ECP’s order was clearly contrary to law and facts as  there was no legal justification for declaring the polls null and void,.

During the course of proceedings, Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the court was postponing the April 10 re-polls for now so the arguments of all the respondents could be heard.

He observed that Advocate Salman Akram Raja, counsel for PML-N candidate Syeda Nosheen Iftikhar, had raised important points during the hearing.

Advocate Salman Akram Raja informed the court that there were 76 polling stations in Daska constituency, while complaints were received from 34 of them.

Justice Bandial said the court was previously told that the voting process had remained suspended at 10 polling stations for a long time on the election day, and asked who had created the problems on that day and why.

Salman Raja replied that the family of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was influential as her father had been elected from the constituency five times. She  got 46,000 votes while her rival PTI candidate received 11,000 votes, he said, adding the purpose of those behind the problems was to affect the polling process.

Upon this, Justice Bandial remarked that it were the PML-N workers who had started the unrest. If the party held sway in the area they why they needed to do so, he asked.

He said the PML-N seemed to be happy over the election results as it had not raised any objections.

Advocate Salman Raja replied that the party had filed a petition with the ECP in connection with the NA-75 by-polls.

Justice Bandial said the PML-N candidate’s counsel would have to prove to the court why re-polling in the entire constituency was necessary on the complaints regarding 23 polling stations.

He also questioned Raja whether the presiding officers had left the polling stations as per procedure. The counsel replied that they had left along with the police officials, however, their return was unusual as they came back together.

Justice Munib Akhtar questioned the process through which the ECP had taken the decision of holding re-elections in the entire constituency.

Salman Raja replied that the ECP had taken the decision after taking complete action according to its code of conduct.

He said the ECP gave everyone the opportunity and no one raised any objections to re-polling in the entire constituency.

The bench observed that Raja’s arguments had not yet finished while the other respondents also had to be heard.

Justice Bandial while postponing the re-polling on April 10 said that the ECP decision still stood.

Later, hearing of the case was adjourned till date in office.