While admitting application of a contesting candidate of recently held local body election in Lahore Cantonment Board, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday stayed notification of the returned candidate till final adjudication of the matter.
Advocate High Court Umer Gilani has filed application on behalf of Asad Ayub Bhatti, a contesting candidate from DHA Lahore before the ECP making District Returning Office Lahore Cantonment Board Lahore and Returning Officer Ward No. IX Lahore Cantonment Board Lahore as respondent.
Appearing before a two-member bench of the ECP comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi in the matter, Advocate Umer Gilani contended that grave illegalities and violations have taken place during recently held local body election in three wards of the Cantonment Board in Lahore.
He alleged that agents of Waqas Aslam Bhatti, candidate for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, created law and order situation, through intimidation, coercion, pressure tactics by resorting to firing and rioting with deadly weapons during the vote counting process at Polling Station No.3 in order to intimidate the presiding officers.
The applicant has alleged that he and his agents were threatened, harassed, intimidated, and forcefully removed from the polling stations at the time when the votes were being counted. He added that evidence of aerial firing was caught on video, which he presented before the bench. He alleged that as a result of all these tactics his opponent was able to materially manipulate the results. He further claimed that election observers, particularly, media persons were injured, harassed and intimidated by the petitioner’s opponent’s agents.
The applicant also apprised the bench that voters were turned away without being provided the opportunity to cast their votes, thereby depriving them of their right to vote, adding that he alleged that bogus and pre-casting of votes took place. Besides, he said that during counting the votes there was illegality as with mala fide votes were rejection.
Advocate Gilani informed the bench that total number of votes cast in Ward No 9 were 7398, adding that out of this number as many as 3342 votes were cast in favour of the petitioner while 3508 were purportedly cast in favour of the leading opponent. He argued, “This means that the opponent/s purported margin of victory is 166 votes only. This amounts to a purported 2.2 percent margin of victory”.
Gilani prayed the bench to issue directions for re-polling in the mentioned polling station in an environment free of intimidation. He also sought the bench directives for forensic analysis of the votes, casted at two mentioned polling stations and re-counting in the remaining polling stations of Ward 09 of the Cantonment Board Lahore.
After hearing the arguments in the matter, the bench said in its order, “After hearing the applicant we deem it appropriate to issue notice to the returning officer to submit his report on or before the date fixed. Let a copy be sent to the returning officer. Meanwhile the notification of the returned candidate shall not be issued by the concerned returning officer”.
Later, the hearing was adjourned till September 22.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org