Friday May 24, 2024

FIR lodged against over 600 SIC leaders, supporters for allegedly violating ECP code

Official in FIR alleges political party did not get NOC from district administration for rally

By Abdul Basit
April 20, 2024
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) supporters attend the public gathering in Kasur in this picture released on April 19, 2024. —X/ @PTIofficial
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) supporters attend the public gathering in Kasur in this picture released on April 19, 2024. —X/ @PTIofficial

CHUNIAN: At least 16 Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf-backed Sunni Ittehad Council leaders including Sher Afzal Marwat and Sardar Muhammad Hussain Dogar have been booked for holding pubic gathering in the Chunian city of Kasur district ahead of by-election in the NA-132 constituency.

A case has been lodged on behalf of a police sub-inspector against the SIC leaders as well as 500 to 600 of the party's unidentified political workers under multiple charges.

In the first information report (FIR), the official alleged that the political party did not get a no objection certificate (NOC) from the district administration for the rally. He also maintained that an attempt was made to "incite people through anti-state narrative" on this occasion.

The FIR alleged that the political leaders violated the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s code of conduct as well as Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The FIR, lodged at Khaddian police station under different sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, also mentioned that they brandished weapons during the public event.

Time for the election campaign of the by-elections, set to be held tomorrow (April 21), ended Friday midnight.

On the NA-132 seat, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had won after contesting the February 8 general election, while Dogar was declared runner-up with a difference of more than 25,000 votes. After PM Shehbaz decided to retain his NA-123 Lahore-VII seat, the aforementioned seat was vacated and is now up for contest in by-polls.

The ECP, a day ago, issued a reminder to candidates, under Section 182 of the Election Act, 2017, regarding the electioneering deadline which it said expires by Friday midnight ahead of by-polls in 21 national and provincial assembly constituencies across Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Balochistan on Sunday April 21.

According to election regulations, campaigning ceased precisely at midnight between Friday and Saturday (April 19 and 20).

The top electoral body cautioned that candidates engaging in political activities after the deadline will face legal consequences.

The aforementioned provision of the Election Act prohibits individuals from organising, attending or participating in any public gatherings or processions within the constituency's area for 48 hours after the polls close, until midnight.

The commission warned that violators of these regulations could face penalties, including imprisonment for up to two years, a fine of up to Rs100,000, or both.

In addition, the poll watchdog calls upon the media and the public to join efforts in ensuring a free, fair, and transparent election process.

Earlier this month, a notification was issued by the poll organising authority regarding the conduct of by-elections in a total of 23 constituencies, including six NA, 12 Punjab Assembly, two KP Assembly, two Balochistan Assembly, and one Sindh Assembly constituencies.

A total of 239 candidates are going to participate in the forthcoming by-elections, including 50 contenders for NA seats, of which Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari was elected unopposed in the NA-207 constituency.

Another PPP leader Zubair Ahmed Junejo was also elected without facing any contest on the PS-80 Dadu seat.

The constituencies on which by-polls will now be conducted include five NA seats; 12 Punjab Assembly, two each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies.

By-polls constituencies

The NA seats on which by-elections will take place include NA-8 Bajaur, NA-44 Dera Ismail Khan-I, NA-119 Lahore-III, NA-132 Kasur-II, NA-196 Kamber Shadadkot-I and NA-207 Shaheed Benazirabad-I.

The elections on NA-8 Bajaur and PK-22 Bajaur-IV were suspended after a candidate contesting as an independent on these constituencies was shot dead.

Meanwhile, NA-44 seat fell vacant after newly-elected KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur opted to retain his provincial seat from DI Khan.

The NA-119 Lahore-III seat was vacated after Maryam went for the provincial seat which she had won, while NA-132 Kasur fell vacant after PM Shehbaz decided to retain his NA-123 Lahore-VII seat.

PM Shehbaz had also won on Punjab Assembly seats — PP-158 and PP-164 — but since he opted his NA seat, the provincial assembly seats were left vacant.

Moreover, the NA seats from Sindh's constituencies, NA-196 Kamber Shadadkot-I and NA-207 Shaheed Benazirabad-I, were vacated after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto retained the seat he won in Larkana, while President Asif Ali Zardari gave up his seat following his election as the head of state.

The other provincial assembly seats on which by-polls will be held include Punjab's PP-22 Chakwal-Cum-Talagang, PP-32 Gujrat-VI, PP-36 Wazirabad-II, PP-54 Narowal-|, PP-93 Bhakkar-V, PP-139 Sheikhupura-IV, PP-147 Lahore-III, PP-149 Lahore-V, PP-158 Lahore-XIV, PP-164 Lahore-XX, PP-266 Rahim Yar Khan-XII, PP-290 Dera Ghazi Khan-V; KP's PK-22 Bajaur-IV, PK-91 Kohat-II; Balochistan's PB-20 Khuzdar-III, PB-22 Lasbela; and Sindh's PS-80 Dadu-I.