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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which already has the first ever woman member from Khyber Pakhtunkha (KP), in another first has appointed a woman judge from the same province as election tribunal.

In a belated exercise, the ECP appointed on Wednesday 20 tribunals comprising serving judges of the high courts to adjudicate election disputes. One of the tribunals comprises Justice Musarrat Hilali.

Normally election tribunals are appointed with the issuance of final notification of election results, which is also beginning of the countdown of 45 days given to candidates for filing cases against the results.

As the notification for election tribunals has been issued late this year, the applicants will have less than 40 days for the purpose.

Eight tribunals have been appointed for Punjab, five for KP, four for Sindh and three for Balochistan.

ECP appoints 20 tribunals comprising serving judges; KP also earns honour of lending first ever woman member to commission

Under the elections act, the law states that an election tribunal has to decide a petition within 120 days of its filing, but at the same time if the decision is delayed, further adjournment sought by a party will be granted only for up to three days and that too on payment of special cost of Rs10,000 per adjournment.

Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh, Justice Shahid Mubeen, Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, Justice Muhammad Iqbal, Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem and Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf have been appointed to settle election-related disputes from Punjab.

Five judges to form election tribunals for KP are: Justice Musarrat Hilali, Justice Lal Jan Khatak, Justice Muhammad Ghazanfar Khan, Justice Abdul Shakoor Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar.

The four tribunals for Sindh will comprise Justice Omer Sial, Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, Justice Shafi Siddiqui and Justice Khadim Hussain Shaikh.

The three tribunals for Balochistan comprise Justice Muhammad Hashim Kakar, Justice Abdullah Baloch and Justice Nazeer Ahmad Langove.

The ECP has requested chief justices of the high courts not to assign routine judicial to the judges appointed as election tribunals till the final disposal of the petitions, according to an official.

The Election Act, 2017 allows the ECP to appoint a serving or retired judge of the high court to hear poll disputes in election tribunals. It states that the ECP can appoint a sitting judge for an election tribunal in consultation with chief justice of relevant high court.

The law states that a petitioner may claim as relief any of the following declarations: “(a) that the election of the returned candidate is void and petitioner or some other candidate has been elected; or (b) that the election of the returned candidate is partially void and that fresh poll be ordered in one or more polling stations; or (c) that the election as a whole is void and fresh poll be conducted in the entire constituency”.

An appeal against the decision of an election tribunal challenging election for a National or provincial assembly seat can be filed in the Supreme Court within 30 days of the decision.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2018