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Saturday April 20, 2024

ECP rejects Nawaz plea against NA-15 Mansehra results

A two-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, heard the petition

By Our Correspondent
February 16, 2024
Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif can be seen during the general election day on February 8, 2024. — Facebook/PML(N)
Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif can be seen during the general election day on February 8, 2024. — Facebook/PML(N)

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Thursday rejected former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s plea, challenging the NA-15, Mansehra, poll results.

A two-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, heard the petition. However, Nawaz’s lawyer could not appear before the bench whereas the returning officer submitted his report to the bench. According to the RO’s reply, the result of the constituency had been compiled according to Form 45.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Jehangir Jadoon, appeared before the bench later and requested against dismissing the petition. The ECP directed him to file the petition again. Later, the lawyer filed another application seeking restoration of the rejected plea and submitted it to the commission. However, the bench turned down the request to stop the notification of the successful candidate, Muhammad Gushtasib Khan, who had returned by receiving 105,249 votes, whereas Nawaz got 80,382 votes as the runner-up.

Meanwhile, the ECP suspended the victory notification of Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) candidate Awn Chaudhry who had earlier been declared as the returned candidate from NA-128 (Lahore). The decision came on a petition filed by a PTI-backed candidate from the constituency, Salman Akram Raja.

The ECP fixed February 19 for hearing again Salman Akram’s petition, which had challenged the victory of Awn Chaudhry. The two-member ECP bench, headed by the CEC, issued an order regarding the hearing held on February 13, which says, “Arguments heard and record perused. The petitioner informed the commission that the process of consolidation has been completed by the returning officer concerned, and Form 49 has been issued by him accordingly”.

The bench said that the matter cannot be decided without getting a detailed report from the RO and without issuing notices to the contesting candidates, whose names have been provided by the applicant/ petitioner by amending the list of respondents.

Separately, the ECP bench constituted an inquiry committee, headed by Nadeem Haider, ADG Elections, and consisted of Ibrar Ahmed Jatoi, Director of Elections, and Nasir Khan, DD Coordination, as members, according to the two-member bench order. The bench issued an order regarding the hearing held on February 13 in the matter, saying, “The petitioner namely Shah Jee Gul Afridi contested the elections for the seat of National Assembly from constituency NA-27, Khyber. As per Form-47, uploaded on the website of the commission, the petitioner has obtained 18,832 votes, and the returned candidate has obtained 85,514 votes.

“The petitioner being aggrieved with the result, issued by the returning officer, has filed an instant application. The learned counsel for the applicant appeared and at the very outset submitted seven books of original ballot papers stamped at the symbol ‘bowl’ and argued that respondent Muhammad lqbal Khan, contesting candidate of NA-27 with the collusion of returning officer, and presiding officers, committed large-scale rigging, fabrication, forgery and manipulation of result of the count.” The bench said that from the perusal of the ballot papers, it is observed that seven books had been given to the commission with numbers i.e. (Book No. l)… all the books of the ballot papers are original and stamped with the symbol ‘bowl’, which is an offence under chapter X o1 the Elections Act, 2017 and also attracts the consequences of criminal cases along with disqualification of the contesting candidates.

“The inquiry committee shall submit its report within seven days before the commission after recording the statements of returning officer, assistant returning officer, presiding officers and assistant presiding officers concerned. The matter will be fixed for February 21 and notification of the returned candidate shall remain suspended.”

Separately, the two-member bench issued an order in relation to an application, filed by Eman Waseem, a contesting candidate from NA-50, Attock, about consolidation of results and her concerns thereon. The bench had issued an order earlier on February 11, which she said in the second application, was not implemented. The bench, in its fresh order, directed the district returning officer to ensure the presence of the returning officer in his office and entertain and decide the application of the applicant in accordance with the law and comply with the order, passed by the commission on Feb 11, 2024, under intimation to the commission.

Meanwhile, Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) leader Firdous Ashiq Awan tendered a written apology for slapping a policeman on the polling day. She informed a two-member ECP bench there was a strange atmosphere in the polling station, while the police acted as a silent spectator despite so many law violations. However, she apologised for her wrong act. She insisted that it was the duty of policemen to protect her as the mob was harassing her, but the police were acting only as spectators.