ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday removed administrative objections on petitions filed against the recent amendments to the Elections Act 2017 and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s jurisdiction to entertain applications seeking the transfer of petitions related to three constituencies of the federal capital.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq took up the petitions and heard the arguments of the counsel against the objections raised by the registrar office.

The petitions were filed by PTI-backed independent candidates from NA-46, NA-47 and NA-48.

The registrar office had raised the objections that the petitioners could not challenge the provisions of Elections Act and the presidential ordinance.

Mohammad Shuaib Shaheen, Mohammad Ali Bukhari and Amir Mughal have challenged the vires of Section 151 of the Elections Act 2017 and the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2024 promulgated on May 27, 2024.

Section 151 of the Elections Act empowered the ECP to “transfer a petition from one tribunal to another.”

Whereas, the presidential ordinance promulgated on May 27 amended Section 140 of the Act and allowed for retired judges to be appointed as election tribunal and that too without the consultation of the chief justice.

The counsel for the petitioners pointed out that the vires of Elections Act, the ordinance and the proceeding before the ECP could have been challenged in a single petition.

Justice Farooq removed the objections and remarked that the court would hear detailed arguments on the petitions after the registrar office would number them accordingly. The court would hear the petitions on Friday (today).

The identical petitions contended that as per Forms 45, the PTI’s runner-up could have won the elections with heavy margin but, due to manipulation in the results they had been defeated.

The petitions stated that following the notification of the election tribunal for Islamabad, the runner-up filed an election petition in the tribunal appointed under Section 140 of the Elections Act 2017.

On the first date of the hearing on May 2, the tribunal issued notices to the ECP, returned candidates and the returning officers and directed them to file original Form-45 and Form-46. On the next date of hearing i.e. May 20, the ECP and some of the respondents appeared and the tribunal directed them to file their replies and the original Form-45/Form-46.

According to the petitions, PML-N candidates filed applications under section 145(1) of the Elections Act 2017 for summary dismissal of the petition on the ground that the same was time-barred. The tribunal after hearing preliminary arguments issued notice to the petitioner with a direction to file reply by giving an advance copy to the other side, and adjourned the case to May 5 for arguments.

The returned candidates of the PML-N filed applications against the presiding judge of the tribunal, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, in the ECP.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2024

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