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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to allot the symbol of cricket bat to a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate for a Kohat district council seat.

The by-elections for the seat will be held on May 25.

Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan also directed the ECP to file a reply about a petition jointly filed by candidate Syed Matiullah Shah and PTI Kohat district president Aftab Alam against its decision of not allotting the bat symbol to the party’s candidates over the non-holding of intra-party elections.

Shumail Ahmad Butt, lawyer for for the petitioners, said Syed Matiullah was elected the district councillor during the local government general elections in 2015 from Union Council Urban-5 Kohat as independent candidate.

He added that after his election, he joined Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz but later joined the PTI over differences with the PML-N leadership.

The lawyer said the petitioner was disqualified on account of defection and subsequently the seat was declared vacant.

He added that the concerned returning officer had issued a schedule for filling the said vacant seat under which the publication of list of candidates contesting with symbols allotted to them was scheduled for May 18.

The lawyer said Syed Matiullah was allotted the ticket of PTI in the by-elections.

He added that the respondents including the ECP had issued a notification on Apr 26 through which the PTI was declared ineligible for allocation of election symbol bat in all local government by-elections.

The lawyer said the order was duly endorsed for onward implementation by a letter issued on Apr 28 by the deputy director Local Government Election.

He said that upon probe, it transpired that on Mar 31, the ECP’s public relations wing had issued a press release wherein it was mentioned that as had failed to conduct intra-party elections thereupon, it lost eligibility for allotment of election symbol in any ensuing election.

The lawyer argued that the impugned decision was illegal.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017