ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reserved decision on the petitions filed by the PTI-backed three candidates of all the three constituencies of Islamabad against the election results notification issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq was hearing the petitions of Amir Mughal, Shoaib Shaheen and Mohammad Ali Bukhari against the notification issued by the ECP that declared their opponents Anjum Aqeel Khan, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz as returned candidates from NA-46, NA-47 and NA-48 respectively.

The petitioners contested the Feb 8 elections as Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) backed independent candidates.

They challenged the elections results before the ECP on Feb 10 and the commission issued a status quo order on the following day. However, the ECP on Feb 11, also issued the notification that declared Khan, Chaudhry and Raja as returned candidates.

During the hearing of the case, Justice Farooq remarked that the ECP knew about the pending applications and it would be better if the notification would be issued after disposal of the applications of the petitioners. The petitioners contended that the ECP consolidated the results in violation of the stay order.

The ECP’s lawyer responded that the restraining order was conditional as it specifically stated that the process may be stopped if the consolidation was not completed.

Justice Farooq remarked had the ECP allowed the applications; the notification of the returned candidates would become void.

The ECP’s lawyer on the other hand said that the notification could only be declared void if the petitioners produce tangible evidence to substantiate the allegations adding that issuance of the notification would not prejudice the ECP’s decision making.

He stated that the ECP would not raise any objection if the matter is remanded back without scrapping the notification. Shaheen argued that in case the consolidation process is being re-commenced, the notification would become infructuous.

He requested the court to direct the ECP to declare the notification as illegal. Justice Farooq reminded him that the ECP is a constitutional forum and the IHC cannot direct the commission.

IHC Chief Justice, however, remarked that the court may pass certain observations. The same court also issued notice to the ECP on the petition of PTI-backed independent candidate Salman Akram Raja against the notification that declared his opponent of Istehkam Pakistan Party (IPP) Aun Chaudhry as returned candidate from NA-128 Lahore.

Justice Farooq also issued notice to the ECP on petition against the ECP’s notification of NA-11 Swat constituency.

The ECP declared Engr Amir Muqam as returned candidate from this constituency. Further hearing in this matter has been adjourned till Thursday (today).

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2024

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