Fafen report on election tribunals 17 out of 23 election tribunals functional

ECP appoints 17 tribunals – two in Punjab, six in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), five in Sindh, three in Balochistan and one in ICT

By Asim Yasin
June 21, 2024
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: At least 377 election petitions challenging the outcomes of as many national and provincial assembly constituencies have been submitted for consideration of 23 election tribunals appointed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), according to the post-election observation by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen).


The Fafen in its report on election tribunals stated that according to Section 140 of the Elections Act, 2017, the ECP appointed 17 tribunals – two in Punjab, six in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), five in Sindh, three in Balochistan and one in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

However, six tribunals in Punjab were appointed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) and notified by its Chief Justice on June 12, 2024, following a single-member bench ruling that the ECP was legally bound to notify the tribunals in consultation with the chief justice.

Moreover, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) also stayed the notification of two tribunals, appointed by the ECP to be headed the retired judges as per a Presidential Ordinance promulgated on May 27, 2024 amending Elections Act, 2017 to provide for the appointment of retired judges as the heads of tribunals.

The ECP has challenged the appointment of tribunals by LHC in the Supreme Court, which has referred the matter to a larger bench.

The Fafen is observing the post-election dispute processes including the election tribunals.

Although the ECP adopted transparency measures during delimitation and other electoral processes, the ECP and tribunals have not yet disclosed the number and the ancillary details of the petitions.

The Fafen largely relied on information available through the cause lists on the websites of high courts to gather the number of the petitions submitted, and subsequently obtained their certified copies.

The Fafen could gather information about a total of 377 petitions filed with the 23 election tribunals, but could only obtain certified copies of 171. As mentioned earlier, these figures are not exhaustive, as the number of petitions may increase.

Although the available data of petition copies obtained by Fafen is not exhaustive, it highlights that a majority of these 171 petitions filed with the tribunals are from petitioner candidates belonging to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who ran as independents during general elections.

The PTI-backed independent candidates are petitioners in 46 percent of these 171 petitions that includes total 79 petitions out of it 31 filed for NA and 48 for provincial assemblies, followed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan (JUIP) 13 percent that includes total 23 petitions that includes 4 for National Assembly and 13 for provincial assemblies, Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) 9 percent that includes total 16 petitions out of it 1 for National Assembly and 15 for provincial assemblies, Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PMLN) 8 percent that includes total 12 petitions that includes 5 for National Assembly and 7 for provincial assembly, independents seven percent that includes total 13 petitions and out of its these 3 for National Assembly and 10 for provincial assemblies and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) in 4 percent of the petitions that includes 1 for National Assembly and 5 for provincial assemblies.

Candidates from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP) and National Party (NP) each represent 2 percent of the constituencies where these petitions were filed.

Candidates belonging to Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) and National Democratic Movement (NDM) have filed petitions in two constituencies each.

A region-wise analysis shows that PTI-backed independent candidates have more share in challenges to constituencies, with all challenges to ICT constituencies originating from them.

Similarly, 74 percent such petitions in Punjab, 49 percent in KP, 42 percent in Sindh, and 6 percent in Balochistan have been filed by PTI-backed independent candidates.

JUIP accounts for 25 percent challenges in Balochistan, 17 percent in Sindh and 16 percent in KP.

The PPP Parliamentarians candidates are petitioners in 17 percent of challenges in Sindh, 13 percent in Balochistan, seven percent in KP and two percent in Punjab. PMLN candidates have filed 19 percent of challenges in Punjab, six percent in Balochistan and four percent in KP.

Nearly all political parties in Balochistan have challenged one or more National and provincial assembly constituencies in the province.

The share of JI and GDA challenges to constituencies in Sindh stands at 12 percent and seven percent, respectively.