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PHC seeks record in by-election case

January 12, 2013

PESHAWAR, Jan 11: The Peshawar High Court on Friday admitted to regular hearing a writ petition against the holding of by-election in the provincial assembly constituency of PK-22, Charsadda, and directed the provincial Election Commission to submit the relevant record.

A bench comprising Justice Khalid Mahmood and Justice Shahjehan Khan Akhunzada observed that the points raised by the petitioner needed consideration.

As polling will be held on Jan 15, the bench fixed Jan 14 for hearing the petition filed by Sardar Khan, a voter from the constituency.

The petitioner has contended that under the Constitution, by-election could not be held for filling a vacancy if the vacancy occurred within 120 days of the ending of the tenure of the assembly.

Fazal Ilahi Khan, lawyer for the petitioner, said under Article 1224 (4) of the Constitution, when a general seat in any assembly became vacant not later than 120 days before the term of the assembly was due to expire, an election to fill the seat should be held within 60 days from the occurrence of the vacancy.

He argued that the said seat had fallen vacant after the then MPA, Mohammad Ali Khan from Qaumi Watan Party, had expired on Nov 2, 2012. He added that the Election Commission of Pakistan had declared the seat vacant on Nov 22 and a notification was issued in that regard.

Mr Ilahi said the assemblies would complete their tenure on March 16 and that meant that by-election could not be held on a seat that fell vacant after Nov 16.

He added that the importance of this by-election could be assumed from the fact that except the Qaumi Watan Party none of the other major political parties had fielded their candidates including Pakistan Peoples Party, Awami National Party, Jamiat- e-Ulema-e-Islam (F), etc.

He added that it was only waste of taxpayers’ money as the MPA would be elected only for two months.

A law officer of the Election Commission told the bench that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly would complete term on March 27 as its members had taken oath on March 28, 2008. He added that keeping in view that date, by-election could be held to fill the vacant seat.

The bench directed the Election Commission to submit details in written form about the tenure of the assembly and when the vacancy had taken place.

Also, the bench admitted to regular hearing a petition against the transfer of issuance of driving licences to the provincial transport department from the traffic police, and sought explanation from different officials on it.

It issued notices to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary, the provincial police officer, the additional inspector general of police (traffic) and the secretary transport department and asked them to explain their position. Later, the hearing into the petition filed by Nishtarabad Traders Union president Sarfraz Khan was fixed to Jan 17.

Ameenur Rehman, lawyer for the petitioner, said the powers of issuance of driving licences were illegally transferred to the transport department as the government had not made any amendments to the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1969. He requested the court to declare the provincial government’s order in this respect illegal.