KARACHI: An election tribunal has ordered recount of votes at four polling stations of a National Assembly constituency in Karachi in a petition filed by a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-backed aspirant.

The tribunal, headed by Justice Adnan Iqbal Chaudhry of Sindh High Court, directed the provincial election commissioner to nominate an officer of the election watchdog to examine and recount all ballot papers polled at four polling stations of NA-231 (Malir-III).

It said that the result of recount and reconsolidation must be submitted by the recounting officer to the registrar of the tribunal within three weeks and where after any candidate desiring to file objections thereto may do so within seven days.

PTI-backed candidate Khalid Mehmood had filed an election petition impugning the result of the constituency and submitted that according to Form-45 collected by his polling agents, he had the clear lead of over 5,000 votes, but the impugned Form-47 reflected that PPP’s Abdul Hakeem Baloch won the seat with a narrow margin of 389 votes as his votes were shown as 43,634 against the petitioner’s 43,245 votes in the Feb 8 general elections.

The petitioner also filed an application along with the petition, asking the tribunal that the same may be decided at the outset which was for a recount and reconsolidation of votes polled at four polling stations of NA-231.

The lawyer for petitioner argued that the difference between petitioner and the returned candidate was only of 389 votes and even if the photocopies of Forms-45s relied upon by the petitioner were ignored for the time being, a case for recount at four polling stations in the very least was made out on the basis of certified copies of Form-45s and Form-46s issued by the returning officer in respect of those polling stations.

The tribunal said that the counsel then took it through such record which was discussed infra and noted that in the final consolidation in Form-49, the petitioner was indeed the runner-up and only by 389 votes behind, a margin less than 5 per cent of the total votes polled in the constituency.

The record reflected that the petitioner had made an application to the RO for a recount, but the same was turned down and the same was challenged before the SHC who had referred the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan to consider the same. However, the ECP had also dismissed the same on the ground that petitioner had a remedy before the election tribunal, it added.

The tribunal in its order also stated that the counsel for petitioner placed on record certified copies of Form-45s and 46s issued by the RO in respect of four polling stations in question and the lawyer submitted that those forms were uploaded by the ECP on its website as the official version.

After perusal of such forms, the tribunal observed that irregularities and errors were found and prima facie there appeared to be a manipulation of 1,000 votes to favor the returned candidate at one of the four polling stations in question and added that such facts were sufficient to order a recount for those polling stations.

It asked he provincial election commissioner to nominate an officer of the ECP, not being the officer who acted as RO of the subject constituency, to examine and recount all ballot papers polled at the four polling station in question.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2024

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