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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday recalled its earlier interim orders and allowed the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue notifications of the returned candidates of three national and one provincial assembly seats in Karachi — all belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The court had earlier restrained the ECP from notifying the returned candidates — Faisal Vawda from NA-249 (Karachi West-II), Jameel Ahmed Khan from NA-237 (Malir-II), Attaullah from NA-250 (Karachi West-III) and Malik Shahzad Awan from PS-116.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, while disposing of identical petitions filed by the losing candidates, asked them to approach the election tribunals, to be constituted under the Peoples Representation Act, 1976, for redressal of grievances related to elections.

Meanwhile, the bench also directed that the proposed tribunals may first decide the applications for votes recount within 15 days of filing of the same by the petitioners and thereafter hear and decide the main cases involving election related grievances.

Shahbaz Sharif and others told to approach election tribunals for redressal of grievances

The petitions were filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s president Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Abdul Hakeem Baloch, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Fayyaz Kaimkhani and PML-N’s Haji Sualeheen, who lost the July 25 elections on three national and one provincial assembly seats, respectively.

They had moved the court seeking recount of the votes polled in the relevant constituencies and a direction for the ECP to refrain from issuing notification of the returned candidates till then.

Mr Sharif through his counsel Shaikh Jawaid Mir submitted that he had contested election from NA-249 and secured 34,626 votes whereas Mr Vawda of the PTI got 35,349 votes.

He said that there was only a difference of 723 votes between the two candidates while 2,684 votes were rejected in the constituency.

The lawyer submitted that an application for recounting was moved before the RO concerned, but it was dismissed through an order dated July 27.

He contended that due to a close margin and keeping in view the rejected votes, it was the responsibility of the RO to carry out the exercise for recounting.

He argued in the petition that Section 95(5) of the Elections Act says: “Before commencement of the consolidation proceedings, the retuning officer shall recount the ballot papers of one or more polling stations if a request or challenge in writing is made by a contesting candidate or his election agent and the margin of victory is less than five per cent of the total votes polled in the constituency or 10,000 votes, whichever is less, or the returning officer considers such request as not unreasonable.”

He argued that an application was also filed before the ECP for recounting, but the director protocol of the ECP communicated to the petitioner on Aug 1 that the process of consolidation had been completed and therefore he might approach the appropriate forum through an election petition.

He submitted that the polling agents of the petitioners were not allowed to enter the polling stations and when they were allowed, the ballot boxes were already sealed.

Impleading the ECP, RO, PTI candidate and 14 others as respondents, Mr Sharif had pleaded for a complete recount of votes and asked for a restraining order for the ECP from announcing the final result.

He also sought a direction for the RO to secure the election material and keep the same in safe place so it could not be tampered with.

NA-237

Mr Baloch had sought a restraining order against issuance of notification of the returned candidate in NA-237 — a Malir district NA seat.

He submitted that he had contested the election from NA-237 (Malir-II) and obtained 31,907 votes whereas Jamil Ahmed Khan of the PTI reportedly secured 33,289 votes. He said that the margin of victory was a mere 1,300 votes.

He submitted that an application was filed with the RO for a recount, but it was turned down. He also approached the ECP with a similar request, but the ECP verbally rejected it. He pleaded for the recount of votes and restraining order.

NA-250

Mr Kaimkhani had also approached the court seeking recount of the votes polled in the NA-250 constituency and issuance of notification of the returned candidate.

PTI’s Attaullah won the seat by securing 36,049 votes, but the petitioner maintained that he lost with a close margin. Therefore, an application was filed with the returning officer of NA-250 for a recount of the polled votes, but the same was dismissed, he added.

PS-116

A PML-N candidate, Haji Sualaheen, had sought recount of the votes polled in the provincial assembly constituency PS-116.

The petitioner said that he had secured 9,711 votes while Malik Shahzad Awan of the PTI obtained 9,966 votes. But, he requested the RO to order votes recount, but his plea was not entertained.

Mr Awan, meanwhile, obtained on Friday interim pre-arrest bail from the sessions court concerned in two cases pertaining to alleged fraud to the tune of Rs20 million through cheques that were dishonored.

Advocate Hussain Ali Chohan moved bail applications before the district and sessions judges of East and South districts, submitting that his client had been declared a proclaimed offender in separate cases relating to dishonouring of two cheques of Rs10 million each.

The counsel further submitted that the complainant parties had already compromised the matters. Therefore, he pleaded to grant interim pre-arrest bail to Mr Awan to enable him surrender before the trial courts.

The courts granted him interim bail against a surety bond of Rs100,000.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2018