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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday issued a stay order to stop the Election Commission of Pakistan from notifying PTI nominee Noorul Haq Qadri as the winner from the NA-43, Khyber, constituency in the July 25 election over his rival candidate’s petition for vote recount.

Justice Roohul Amin Khan Chamkani and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim issued notices to the ECP and Qari Noorul Haq for today (Wednesday) asking them to explain their respective positions on the matter.

Former MNA and independent candidate Haji Gul Afridi had filed the petition claiming that the returning officer of his constituency first ordered vote recount but later withdrew the order in an illegal move.

Respondent Noorul Haq Qadri, a former MNA, had won the election by getting around 3,100 more votes than the petitioner.

Qazi Mohammad Anwar, lawyer for the petitioner, said several irregularities were reported in his client’s constituency during the July 25 election.

He said initially, the returning officer had declared Noorul Haq Qadri winner prompting his client to formally ask vote recount.

The lawyer said on July 27, the returning officer ordered vote recount at 182 polling stations next morning but he later cancelled that order over possible threat to public peace in the constituency.

He said the Elections Act, 2017, didn’t empower the returning officer to withdraw the vote recount order and so, that order was illegal.

The lawyer said his client had also taken up the matter with the ECP but the latter had yet to respond to it.

He said the petitioner was left with no option but to move the high court for relief.

The lawyer requested the bench to stop the ECP from issuing the gazette notification of respondent Noorul Haq Qadri’s election victory until the final disposal of his petition.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2018