KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday issued notices to the chief election commissioner (CEC) and others on applications filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-backed independent candidates, seeking contempt proceedings against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for not deciding their complaints against provisional results of general elections through ‘speaking orders’.

A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, warned that an appropriate order may be passed if detailed reasons had yet not been written in those matters.

It also directed the alleged contemnors to files comments before March 28 and said that in future, no further adjournment would be granted on any ground.

Citing CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja and four members of the ECP as well as provincial election commissioner, Sindh as alleged contemnors, PTI-Sindh president Haleem Adil Shaikh and two other party-backed aspirants in their contempt applications submitted that they had not complied with the SHC order passed on Feb 13 regarding their election complaints.

SHC directs alleged contemnors to file comments by 28th; warns no further adjournment will be granted

At the outset of the hearing on Monday, deputy director-ECP Abdullah Hanjrah appeared on behalf of the alleged contemnors and sought copies of the contempt applications.

He also requested for time to seek instructions and to file reply/objection.

Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Khaleeq Ahmed and Assistant Advocate General (AAG) Saifullah also made similar requests and the lawyer for the applicants Ali Tahir undertook to provide the same during the course of day.

In the first instance, the bench said that comments be called before the next date with an advance copy to the lawyer for the applicants.

However, it clarified that “if detailed reasons had not yet been written in the instant cases, learned counsel for petitioners present in court may be justified to allege that in the aforesaid petitions, the delay had deliberately been made and earlier court order had not been complied with in letter and spirit whereby a cut of date was also given for such purpose”.

“Therefore this court shall be constrained to call for the entire record and proceedings from the office of Election Commission of Pakistan, whereas, some concerned officials along with entire record of the petitioners’ cases, including Forms 45 and 47 in respect of the petitioners for the purpose of verification and thereafter, appropriate order may be passed in the instant petitions. No further adjournment on any ground will be granted on the next date,” the bench in its order added.

Adjourning the hearing till March 28, the bench asked its office that a copy of this order may be supplied cover-in-hand to the deputy director-ECP as well as DAG and AAG for onward transmission to the quarters concerned.

The PTI’s provincial chief submitted that he had contested election from NA-238 (Karachi East-VI) and as per the Form-45s, he was leading with around 65,000 votes, but the results were changed at the office of returning officer since he was shown as runner-up in the impugned Form-47s/provisional result.

PTI-backed Abbas Hasnain and Khalid Mehmood also contended that they contested the Feb 8 general elections from NA-247 (Karachi Central-I) and NA-231 (Karachi Malir-III), respectively, and according to From-45s, they were also leading with big margins, but they were shown defeated in the impugned Form-47s/provisional results.

The applicants submitted that on Feb 13, the SHC had disposed of around 50 identical petitions filed by the PTI-backed aspirants against provisional results and had ordered the ECP to decide the petitioners’ complaints through ‘speaking orders’ before Feb 22.

They also stated that about issues regarding consolidation of results, the SHC had also directed the ECP to resolve the discrepancy in Form-45s and Form-47s (provisional results) after scrutinising the record available with the ECP or provided by the petitioners.

However, they submitted that the alleged contemnors had dismissed their complaints without speaking orders and passed the actual short orders on Feb 23, but put the date of Feb 21 on such orders to mislead the court.

The applicants also argued that the election watchdog had also not resolved the issue regarding discrepancies found in Form-45s and Form-47s.

They further stated that the alleged contemnors had committed deliberate and wilful contempt of SHC’s Feb 13 order and rendered themselves liable to be proceeded and prosecuted for contempt of court.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

ICJ rebuke
Updated 26 May, 2024

ICJ rebuke

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends.
Hot spells
26 May, 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate...
Defiant stance
26 May, 2024

Defiant stance

AT a time when the country is in talks with the IMF for a medium-term loan crucial to bolstering the fragile ...
More pledges
Updated 25 May, 2024

More pledges

There needs to be continuity in economic policies, while development must be focused on bringing prosperity to the masses.
Pemra overreach
25 May, 2024

Pemra overreach

IT seems, at best, a misguided measure and, at worst, an attempt to abuse regulatory power to silence the media. A...
Enduring threat
25 May, 2024

Enduring threat

THE death this week of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, who succumbed to injuries after being attacked by gunmen, is yet...