While agreeing to the constitutional mandate of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to declare NA-75 Daska, Sialkot-IV, election void on the grounds of gross irregularities during polling day on February 19, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s appeal against the Commission’s decision.
During the general election of 2018, the candidate of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Syed Iftikharul Hassan alias Pir Zahiray Shah was elected MNA from the constituency which remained the PML-N stronghold. After the death of Pir Zahiray Shah, his daughter Syeda Nousheen Iftikhar was given a ticket to contest the election whose opponent from ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate Ali Asjad Malhi contested the by-election in the constituency on February 19.
Over the complaint of Syeda Nousheen Iftikhar, the ECP ordered on February 25 for re-poll in the constituency on the grounds that the election in the constituency had not been conducted in a transparent manner where incidents of murders, firing and injuries, bad law and order situation amid other circumstances led to make the process of result doubtful.
Challenging the ECP decision before the top court PTI’s candidate Malhi sought the court directive to dismiss the Commission ruling on the grounds that it has no jurisdiction to announce re-poll in the constituency.
After giving sufficient time to both the parties and the ECP counsels for arguments in the matter, a three-judge bench led by Justice Umer Ata Bandial announced a short order on Friday saying, “Appeal is dismissed – detailed order would be recorded later”.
Soon after the pronouncement of the short order in the matter, Malhi said he is ready for the re-poll in the constituency saying his lawyers will examine the detailed order of the top court and will decide to file review petition on legal grounds. Reacting to the short order, PTI leader Usman Dar said the party accepts the Supreme Court order wholeheartedly and will not criticise the court like the Opposition does, “The court is supreme for us,” Dar said.
Talking to media persons after the short order, PML-N candidate Syeda Nausheen Iftikhar hailed the order terming it as Pakistan’s victory and thanked the people of the area for showing support to her. “This is also our party’s victory which propagates for respect of vote”, She said.
During the course of hearing on Friday, addressing the counsel for ECP, Justice Bandial said, “Rather than going to the nitty-gritty of the matter the court is determined to examine the legality of the ECP decision and its mandate in the matter under Article 218 of the Constitution. Justice Bandial further observed whatever the case is who was behind the disappearance of 20 presiding officers on the polling day on February 19 but it is clear that the election process was highly dented.
Justice Umer Ata Bandial before announcing the short order said the ECP should take strict action over the irregularities so that in the future no one will dare to get presiding officers disappeared from polling stations.
It is pertinent to mention that earlier the top court has suspended the ECP election schedule of April 10 in the constituency. Talking to TLTP, senior lawyer of the Supreme Court Akhtar Chaudhry informed that re-poll suspension order of the top court in the matter has become infructuous after dismissal of the appeal of PTI in the case.
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 email@example.com