The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a decision of the Lahore High Court to restrain the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from issuing the victory notification of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan from NA-131, Lahore, and ordering the returning officer to hold a recount of all ballot papers.
Hearing an appeal filed by Khan against the LHC judgement, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that the top court had suspended a similar order of the high court yesterday while hearing a petition regarding election in NA-140.
Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh of the LHC had ordered the vote recount while allowing a petition moved by Khawaja Saad Rafique, the runner-up candidate of the PML-N from the constituency.
During today's hearing, the lawyer for Rafique argued before the court that Khan had won the July 25 elections from five constituencies and that the prime minister-in-waiting in his victory speech had promised to open constituencies where rigging had allegedly taken place.
But the CJP brushed off this argument, saying: "These are mere political statements."
The court directed Rafique's lawyer to approach the relevant election tribunal with his complaint and request for a recount.
Soon after the SC verdict, Khan's lawyer Babar Awan wrote to the ECP, requesting the commission to issue the notification of the PTI chief's victory in NA-131 Lahore and NA-53 Islamabad.
In his application, Awan argued that since the apex court had nullified the high court's judgement, the ECP should issue the victory notification.
A day earlier, the ECP had notified the final results of the general election but withheld results of nine national and 17 provincial assembly seats for various reasons, stirring a new controversy before the formation of the next government.
Following the notification on Tuesday, the strength of PTI in the National Assembly had gone down from 116 to 112 and its ally Balochistan Awami Party from four to three.
Jamshed Dasti's request for recount rejected
The SC also rejected Awami Raj Party Chairman Jamshed Dasti's request for a vote recount in NA-182 Muzaffargarh.
Dasti in his petition had claimed that the power had gone out in the area at 11pm on election day; despite this, the returning officer issued the results from the constituency at 2pm the next day.
But the court rejected his request for a recount, with the CJP instructing Dasti to approach the concerned election tribunal, which he said was the relevant forum of the Election Commission of Pakistan.
LHC rejects vote recount request for NA-73
Also on Wednesday, the LHC rejected Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar's petition requesting a vote recount in NA-73 Sialkot.
Justice Mamoonur Rashid also allowed the ECP to issue the notification of victory of PML-N's Khawaja Asif.
After losing to Asif in NA-73, Dar had alleged in his petition to the court that polling officers were not given Form 45 after the count.
He said that 7,406 votes were rejected in his constituency and that he had lost to Asif with a margin of only 1,346 votes.
The PTI leader had said that the RO had rejected his application of ordering a recount in the constituency.
He had asked the court to order that a recount be held in the constituency and that Asif's victory notification be withheld until the results of the recount are announced.