Salman Akram Raja vs Awn Chaudhry — LHC stays result in NA-128

Published February 10, 2024
This photo combo shows Awn Chaudhry of the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (L) and Advocate Salman Akram Raja, a PTI-backed independent candidate (R).
This photo combo shows Awn Chaudhry of the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (L) and Advocate Salman Akram Raja, a PTI-backed independent candidate (R).

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court restrained the returning officer of the NA-128 constituency on Friday from notifying the election result based on Form 47.

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi passed the order on a petition filed by Advocate Salman Akram Raja, a PTI-backed independent candidate from the constituency, against Awn Chaudhry of the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party.

Mr Raja personally appeared before the court along with his counsel. The counsel argued that Mr Raja was not allowed to witness the process of vote count and that his polling agent was not handed over Form 45 by the polling staff.

Mr Raja was even expelled from the polling station by the returning officer with assistance from the police, the counsel said. This incident prompted Mr Raja to file a complaint with the CCPO of Lahore regarding the polling staff’s behaviour.

The judge expressed dismay upon learning from an Election Commission lawyer that the RO was unreachable, as his mobile phone was switched off.

The ECP counsel oppo­sed the petition, saying the petitioner should have approached the commission first if he had any complaint about the counting process. He said the petitioner lost the election as per the result compiled based on Form 47. Every losing candidate opted to move courts on baseless grounds, the ECP counsel argued, adding that the petitioner himself admitted that he was present in the RO office.

However, Mr Raja’s counsel said his concern was not the vote count but the result compilation. He said the result of only 13 polling stations was compiled in the petitioner’s presence.

Consequently, Justice Najafi nullified the initial results announced by the RO based on Form 47 and demanded a written resp­onse from the ECP by Feb 12.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024

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