LAHORE: Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan has ordered that the presiding officers cannot leave the polling stations without preparing and signing Form-45 (result) and handing it to all stakeholders in the upcoming by-election in NA-75, Daska.
The CEC issued the direction on Saturday in the wake of the disappearance of 20 presiding officers in NA-75 by-poll held in February last.
The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the appeal of ruling PTI’s candidate against the ECP’s decision to hold re-election in the entire Daska constituency.
“The entire election process suffered a setback with the disappearance of 20 presiding officers, and when these officers surfaced they were looking sheepish,” the apex court had observed.
On Saturday CEC Sikandar Sultan presided over a meeting to review arrangements for the by-poll in NA-75.
“All presiding officers of NA-75 are directed not to leave the polling station till the end of the entire process and prepare and sign the Form-45 (result) while being staying there (at polling stations). The contesting candidates make sure that their polling agents must not leave the polling stations without receiving the signed copy of Form-45 from the presiding officers,” Mr Sultan said.
The CEC also issued directions that in the coming by-poll (on April 10), other than candidates and their polling agents no political personality was allowed to visit the returning officer during the receiving of results. And instructions will be issued to security personnel in this regard.
The election commissioner has also ordered establishing a control room to entertain complaints and their redress with regard to the by-polls. During the meeting the CEC also made it clear that no dereliction of duty regarding provision of security and other arrangements in the by-poll would be tolerated.
Mr Sultan also directed the officers to take all necessary steps to ensure free and fair by-poll in Daska. He also asked them to keep a close eye on the provincial government’s arrangements in this regard. He said in the by-poll the number of monitoring teams was being enhanced. It was noted that the ECP, the district government and law- enforcement agencies would work together.
Separately, ECP Punjab Secretary Dr Akhtar Nazir held a meeting in Sialkot.
It was attended by the Gujranwala commissioner, the regional police officer, the Rangers wing commander, a representative of the army, deputy commissioner and the district police officer.
Mr Nazir directed the divisional administration not to repeat the mistakes made during polling on Feb 19 in the constituency, which also resulted in the murder of two political workers.
During the meeting, it was told that foolproof arrangements were being made to ensure the security in and around all the polling stations on the polling day. The security had been doubled at all the polling stations.
The ECP has established 360 polling stations for repolling in Daska constituency (NA 75 Daska, Sialkot-IV). Declaring the Feb 19 by-poll in NA-75 null and void, the ECP had noted that “on the day of the election, chaos was spread in the entire constituency.”
On the ECP’s order, the Sialkot deputy commissioner and the district police officer as well as the Daska assistant commissioner and deputy superintendent of police and Sambrial DSP were suspended for their poor performance.
Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2021