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Thursday February 29, 2024

ECP stays consolidation of results in NA-15, NA-47 and NA-48

Process of consolidation shall remain suspended till the final outcome of this case

February 12, 2024
Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel stand alert in front of the Election Commission office in the Federal Capital on February 9, 2024. —  Online
Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel stand alert in front of the Election Commission office in the Federal Capital on February 9, 2024. —  Online

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Sunday stayed the process of consolidation (of results) in NA-15, Mansehra, NA-47, ICT, and NA-48, ICT, till the outcome of the petitions filed by ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, Muhammad Ali Bokhari and Shoaib Shaheen respectively and sought reports from the concerned returning officers (ROs).

The orders in the petitions were issued after hearing was conducted separately here at the Election Commission Secretariat by the ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The order regarding NA-15 says petitioner namely Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif contested election for the seat of National Assembly from constituency NA-I5, Mansehra. As per Form 47, issued by the Returning Officer, petitioner obtained 80,382 votes while his opponent namely, Shehzada Muhammad Gushtasib Khan has obtained 105,249 votes in the contest and declared as leading/returned candidate.

“The petitioner being aggrieved with the result issued by the returning officer (RO) has filed instant petition whereby it has been prayed as under: That the notification of the result of NA-15 may kindly he withheld in the interest of justice and to make the election fair and transparent and that declare that the Form 47 is not as land rules and result of the remaining polling stations also be included in the final result. That the respondent may be directed to recount the entire votes and make the counting as per the mandate of the election law,” the order notes.

The learned counsel for petitioner, Jahangir Khan Jadoon, ASC, appeared and contended that the result of NA-15 on Form 47 has been prepared by the RO without receiving and adding Form 45 of approximately more than 125 polling stations. He contended that the above mentioned 125 Form 45 have not been provided to the petitioner as well. He said that these 125 polling stations were located in remote, far-flung and snow-bound area of Kala Dhaka (Torgarh). He also contended that the petitioner has lost the election of NA-l5 as per incomplete Form 47 and has serious reservation on the said form.

The learned counsel also argued that the petitioner has also approached the concerned RO but his grievance has not been readdressed. The counsel prayed that Form 47 issued by the RO may be withheld and result of remaining polling stations may be included in the final result. He requested that the RO may be directed to recount the entire votes and in accordance with election laws. Arguments heard and record perused. The office has been informed that the RO has issued notices for consolidation under Section 95 of the Elections Act, 2017 today i.e. 11-02-2024 at 3:00 pm.

The order said for just and fair decision in the matter, it is directed that notice be issued to the RO along with copy of petition for his comprehensive report within three days which shall reach this office before the next date of hearing.

Furthermore, the process of consolidation shall remain suspended till the final outcome of this case, if not already concluded. Notice be also issued to the Returned Candidate. The matter be relisted for 15-02-2024.

Regarding the petition filed by the petitioner Syed Muhammad Ali Bokhari contested the election for NA-48. As per Form 47 issued by the RO, petitioner obtained 59,851 votes while his opponent, Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, has obtained 69,699 votes and declared as leading/returned candidate.

Petitioner being aggrieved with the result issued by the returning officer has filed instant petition. Petitioner appeared in person along with his counsel Faisal Fareed, ASC, and argued that as per Form-45 issued by the presiding officers of 257 out of 261 polling stations, petitioner has obtained 74,425 votes whereas Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz obtained 30,345 votes. Learned counsel submitted that as per the Form-45 obtained by their polling agents from the offices of presiding officers, he is the winning candidate of the constituency.

The counsel has also submitted the photocopies of all the Form-45 which are taken on record. He argued that the application on the same day was given to the RO for correction of result. He submitted that the recount may be ordered in the constituency NA-48 and in the meanwhile the commission may order stay of consolidation proceedings and notification of returning candidate.

He referred to the provisions of Section 8(b), (c) of the Elections Act, 2017, and argued that the commission has the power to make such orders which are best in the interest of justice. He also highlighted that the procedure provided under Section 90 of the Act was not followed by the concerned RO. Upon query regarding consolidation process, he replied that the RO has given notice for consolidation of the result at 1:00 pm today. The counsel, while concluding his arguments, referred to the case of Miss Nosheen lftikhar VS Ali Asjad Malhi (Daska Case) and prayed for setting aside the Form-47 issued by the RO and preparation of a fresh while accepting his petition. Arguments heard and record perused.

“The office has informed that the returning office has issued notice for consolidation under Section 95 of the Act for today i.e. 11-02-2024 at 1:00 pm. The matter cannot be decided without getting report from the concerned RO and without issuing notice to the returned candidate. Therefore, for just decision in the matter, it is directed that notice be issued to the RO along with copy of petition for his comprehensive report within three days which shall reach this office before the next date of hearing. Furthermore, the process of consolidation shall remain suspended till the outcome of the case, will not already concluded. Notice be also issued to the returned candidate which shall be served through concerned DEC along with copy of application,” it says. About the petition filed the candidate Muhammad Shoaib Shaheen, who contested the election for the NA-47. As per Form 47 issued by the returning officer, petitioner obtained 86,794 votes while his opponent namely, Tariq Fazal Choudhry, has obtained 101,397 votes in the contest and declared as leading/returned candidate. Petitioner being aggrieved with the result issued by the returning officer has filed instant petition. The petitioner appeared in person and argued that Form-47 issued by the RO is illegal, unlawful and contrary to the Elections Act and Election Rules, 2017. He further added that result may not be finalized on the basis of Form-47 as according to him the same is not in accordance with Form-45 received in original by his polling agents. He contended that according to their Form-45 he has the lead of more than 53,000 votes. He argued that directions issued by the commission on the different applications submitted by him were not implemented.

“Arguments heard and record perused. The office has informed that the returning office has issued notice for consolidation under Section 95 of the Act, i.e. 11-02-2024 at 12:00 pm. The matter cannot be decided without getting report from the concerned RO and without issuing notice to the returned candidate. Therefore, for just and fair decision in the matter, it is directed that notice be issued to the RO along with copy of petition for his comprehensive report within three days which shall reach this office before the next date of hearing,” the order says.

The order says, “Furthermore, the process of consolidation shall remain suspended till the outcome of the case, if not already concluded. Notice be also issued to the returned candidate which shall be served through concerned DEC along with copy of application. Office is directed to fix the matter after receipt of the report from the concerned returning officer and inform the concerned accordingly”.