PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court division bench on Mondayordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take action against the returning officer (RO) for changing the election symbol of PTI leader and former federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur.

Justice Shakil Ahmad and Justice Waqar Ahmad also ordered the ECP to allot the election symbol ‘queen’ to Gandapur for the Feb 8 election in his National Assembly constituency.

During the case hearing, Shah Faisal Utmankhel, counsel for petitioner Ali Amin Gandapur, said his client was contesting election for one National Assembly seat, NA-44, and two provincial assembly seats, PK-112 and PK-113.

He added that his client got the election symbol ‘queen’ for the NA seat but it was later changed to a radio set.

The lawyer said despite a request for one election symbol for election in the two provincial constituencies, the returning officer allotted two different election symbols, including ‘bottle’ and ‘stethoscope’, for the two provincial constituencies.

Justice Ahmad wondered if the RO was empowered to change election symbols and under what law, he did so.

He added that the election symbol was important for candidates as it always left psychological impact on the mind of voters.

Lawyer for the ECP Mohsin Kamran informed the bench that it was Gandapur’s right to have one election symbol for both provincial assembly seats and that he had spoken to the ECP but the latter complained about a shortage of paper for printing ballot papers.

Justice Ahmad asked him to check if ballot papers were printed.

After a short break, Mr Kamran told the court that the ECP had sought details of the case for examination.

The bench observed that an action would be taken against the ECP if it did not follow the court’s orders.

It later ordered the ECP to allot the symbol ‘queen’ to Gandapur and act against the returning officer.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2024

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