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Transfer of RO challenged in court

April 07, 2013

PESHAWAR, April 6: Former MNA from tribal areas Haji Baz Gul Afridi on Saturday moved the Peshawar High Court against the transfer of the returning officer for NA- 47, Frontier Region (Tribal Area XII), declaring the act pre-election rigging.

According to the petition jointly filed by Mr Gul, who is contesting election from the constituency, and local voter Junaidullah, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had issued a notification on March 1 through which returning officers were announced for all constituencies, including NA-47, where the additional commissioner of Kohat was declared RO.

However, the ECP deputy director (coordination) later replaced the RO without assigning any reason and gave the responsibility to the additional commissioner, Bannu.

The petitioners prayed the court to declare the said orders illegal, unconstitutional and without lawful authority, and direct the respondents to re-notify the posting of the additional commissioner of Kohat as RO to the said constituency.

The respondents in the petition are ECP through the chief election commissioner, the provincial office of ECP through provincial commissioner, regional election commissioner of Fata, Peshawar, the ECP director general (elections), and the ECP deputy director (coordination).

The petition filed through lawyers Shahnawaz Khan and Aurangzeb Khan said Haji Baz Gul Afridi, a candidate, had filed an application with ECP against the RO transfer but no action had been taken so far.

It added that elders from the region voiced concern on the matter declaring the change of RO politically-motivated and done at the behest of a former provincial minister, who is a candidate from the constituency.

The petition said the impugned act of the respondents had led to serious doubts about the ECP impartiality as for the holding of elections.

It said all other notifications or orders were issued by the ECP director general (elections) and available on the ECP website, while the impugned notification was issued by the deputy director but didn’t post it on the ECP website.

The petition said NA-47 had a total of 123,383 votes, including 41,726 from FR Kohat and 24,150 from FR Peshawar, while FR Bannu, where the RO had been transferred, had a total of 9,509 votes.