ECP made a mistake by not having Rangers posted during by-polls in Daska: Justice Bandial

Published March 16, 2021
Supreme Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday observed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had "made a mistake by not having Rangers posted" during the by-elections in the NA-75 (Daska) constituency last month. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File
Supreme Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday observed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had "made a mistake by not having Rangers posted" during the by-elections in the NA-75 (Daska) constituency last month. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File

Supreme Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday observed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had "made a mistake by not having Rangers posted" during the by-elections in the NA-75 (Daska) constituency last month.

He made the remark during the hearing of a petition by PTI candidate Ali Asjad Malhi, challenging the ECP's decision to hold re-polling in the constituency after suspicions that results of certain polling stations were falsified.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Bandial, heard the petition.

Justice Bandial observed that the 2018 general elections were held peacefully because of the posting of Rangers. "They were not posted in NA-75 (Daska) which was a mistake by the Election Commission."

He added that the court "respected constitutional institutions" and would look at every aspect of the matter.

The ECP had last month voided the by-election held in NA-75 on February 19 — which was marred by deadly clashes between workers of the ruling PTI and PML-N, the mysterious disappearance of around 20 presiding officers and suspected tampering with results — and ordered re-polling in the entire constituency.

The decision was challenged by Malhi, who argued in his petition that there was "no legal justification" for the ECP to declare the polls null and void, adding that the ECP's order was "clearly contrary to law and facts of the case".

During the hearing, the PTI candidate's counsel asked the bench to set aside the ECP's ruling calling for re-election in the entire constituency.

Responding to this, Justice Bandial denied the request, saying that re-polling will take place for sure but it is yet to be determined whether it will happen in the entire constituency or in certain polling areas.

The bench said it will take a final decision after hearing arguments from Salman Akram Raja – the PML-N candidate's lawyer – who could not deliver his stance in court today as he was suffering from Covid-19.

Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed observed that there had been violence at polling stations during the by-elections and that it was the responsibility of the administration to control it.

When the PTI counsel raised objections to the ECP's "short order", Justice Amin replied that the chief election commissioner was not a judge himself.

The counsel for the ECP informed the court that Inspector General of Police Punjab (IGP) Inam Ghani had not submitted his response.

"Is this the cooperation and respect that security agencies have for the Election Commission?" Justice Bandial questioned.

He also directed the ECP to submit details of the expenses accrued in holding elections in one constituency for the National Assembly.

The ECP counsel also told the court that "conditions in the constituency were the same as before" which is why the electoral body had extended the date for re-polling to April 10 from March 18.

According to a report by the secretary interior, "terror was spread in the constituency because of clashes," the counsel further told the court.

Meanwhile, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi asked the ECP lawyer which election was held without these kinds of incidents.

"These incidents can also be called election culture," he said.

Justice Amin observed that the culture of violence during elections needs to be ended.

The hearing of the case was adjourned until March 19.


Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the SC had thrown out PTI's petition against the ECP. In fact, the SC is yet to issue a final verdict on the petition. The error is regretted.

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