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Monday February 06, 2023

Karachi LG polls hearing: CEC says results to be corrected if malafide intent proved

By Our Correspondent
January 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja Wednesday said that if mala fide intent was proved, then the LG poll result will not only be corrected but also strict action will be taken against those involved in the electoral process.

He observed this while heading a three-member ECP bench, which heard the petition of Jamaat-e-Islami over alleged irregularities in the recently-held polls in Karachi pertaining to six UCs.

The JI’s lawyer contended before the forum that even if it was not rigging, there was a large-scale irregularity in these six union councils, which are an example in this regard. He pointed out that presiding officers made a mistake in counting 1,000 to 2,000 votes in one council. He explained that, for example, 4,538 votes were cast in Manghopir UC-12, while it was written that the correct votes were 5,110, according to Form XI. Whereas in another UC, the JI had 2,088 votes and Peoples Party had 546 votes while in the result, 1,988 votes were mentioned in favour of PPP. He claimed there were such disparities of hundreds of votes in every UC.

He said the Returning Officer (RO), who was not an employee of the Election Commission, disappeared. He alleged the ROs and polling staff had done a lot of electoral abuse.

The PPP lawyer argued that the final results had not yet been prepared. The Election Commission should immediately release the final results as the Supreme Court had decided that the results should be compiled soon.

The chief election commissioner remarked that the results should be prepared soon and pointed out that the final results had been withheld on the orders of the Election Commission.

A member of the ECP contended that it had to be seen whether the returning officer made a mistake or the result was changed knowingly.

The PPP lawyer argued that the JI’s petition was not maintainable. He took the stand that only the candidate could apply for electoral disputes, JI’s application was premature, and if there was any irregularity after or during the polling, then there was a forum and procedure.

The concerned candidate of Karachi local bodies elections said that he had a video, wherein the PPP poll symbol arrow was being stamped. In his remarks, the chief election commissioner said that he should bring along the evidence of rigging and wanted to watch that content here.

The in-charge of PPP’s Karachi local bodies election cell said that no party except the Jamaat-e-Islami had filed a complaint, and everyone was satisfied.

No one in the city has any complaint regarding the LG polls.

He added there should be sportsman spirit and one must desist from setting the tradition that everyone comes running to the Election Commission.

The chief election commissioner said that the applicants should submit a copy of their replies and evidence; they have to provide the copy to the respondents and ROs while the ROs have to come and reply.

On the occasion, the Election Commission gave seven-day time to applicants to provide details.

During the hearing, the concerned ROs also appeared and the chief election commissioner said that commission prefers that the RO should be from the administration. “Our experience in Sindh has not been good. You are a government employee, you have to work impartially.”

The hearing was adjourned till February 2.

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