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PESHAWAR: An election tribunal here on Friday dismissed a petition challenging the election of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MNA Imran Khattak on the ground of disenfranchising women voters in several polling stations of his constituency NA-5 during the by-elections last year.

The tribunal, presided over by Mr Shahjee Rehman Khan, pronounced a short order to dismiss the election petition filed by the rival candidate belonging to Awami National Party, Daud Khattak.

The petitioner had lost to Mr Imran in by-elections held on Aug 22 in NA-5, Nowshera-I. The said seat was vacated by Pervez Khattak as he had retained the provincial assembly seat won by him in the general elections.

On the day of polling the then Peshawar High Court chief justice Dost Mohammad Khan had taken notice of the issue of disenfranchising women voters in several polling stations in NA-5. The high court had stayed the announcement of the election results and ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold polling in all those polling stations where women were restrained from casting votes.

However, on a petition filed by Mr Imran the Supreme Court had set aside that orders of the high court on Sept 17 on the ground that the PHC chief justice had no powers to exercise suo motu jurisdiction when an aggrieved person had not approached the court.

Following the SC order, some female voters approached the high court stating that they were barred from casting votes, but the court referred them to the election tribunal. The women voters were witnesses in the election petition filed by Mr Daud.

Counsel for the petitioner contended that in around 40 polling stations women were barred from casting vote. He said that women were deprived of their political right by not allowing them to cast vote.

The counsel appearing for Mr Imran contended that the charges of disenfranchising women could not be proved. He stated that polling stations were set up for voters and all arrangements were made therein and Mr Imran could not be held responsible if any voter did not turn up to cast vote.

Published in Dawn, May 31th, 2014