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August 3, 2018

LHC stays victory notification in NA-91

Lahore

August 3, 2018

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday barred the Election Commission of Pakistan from issuing victory notification for PML-N candidate from NA-91, Sargodha, and summoned the ECP secretary along with record of NA-131 on Khwaja Saad Rafiq’s plea.

Justice Shahid Karim issued the stay order against issuance of notification of the returned candidate in NA-91 on a petition moved by Amir Sultan Cheema, the runner-up candidate of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Dr Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti of PML-N won the election from the constituency with a thin margin of 87 votes only. Cheema through his counsel pleaded that the returning officer rejected petitioner’s application to hold recount of the votes. He said the RO violated fundamental rights of the petitioner as well as the election laws by not entertaining his request for the recount.

He requested the court to bar the ECP from issuing victory notification of the respondent and order the RO to hold recount of the votes. Justice Karim stayed the notification and sought a reply from the ECP by Aug 6.

Hearing multiple petitions for recount of votes in different constituencies, including NA-131, Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh directed the ECP secretary to appear personally or depute a responsible officer instead and bring the record of NA-131, Lahore and both provincial assembly constituencies (PP-162 and PP-163).

The judge also directed the ECP to produce record of recount of votes held in the constituencies across the country before and after the consolidation of results. Earlier, Rafiq’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar argued that the ECP adopted a discriminatory policy on the issue of recount. He said the RO dismissed application of the petitioner and refused to hold recount of complete votes polled in the constituency. He said the RO carried out recount of 2,832 rejected votes only and, out them, 200 votes were declared valid.

He said that after the recount of rejected votes the defeat margin of the petitioner decreased from 680 to 605 votes. He contended that the RO violated fundamental rights of the petitioner by refusing to hold recount of the ballots.

Justice Sheikh also sought record of NA-140, Pattoki, from the ECP on a petition moved by Rana Hayat of PML-N for recount of votes. Hayat pleaded that he bagged 124,385 votes while Talib Nikai of PTI was declared returned candidate after getting 124,685 votes. He said 7,453 votes had been rejected in the counting while his polling agents were not provided with Form 45 by the presiding officers. He said the returning officer dismissed his application for recount of votes.

The judge also directed the counsel of the petitioners to come up with arguments on a point whether the high court had the jurisdiction to intervene in the matter after the consolidation of the results. The judge would resume hearing on Friday (today).

SAFMA: South Asia Free Media Association has filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against sealing of its Lahore office by Lahore Development Authority.

The petition has been filed by SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam, pleading that the institution was the only training institution for journalists in South Asia. He said that under the LDA rules, training institutions and libraries located in residential areas could not be sealed.

He alleged that the LDA’s move to seal SAFMA office was an attempt to stifle the freedom of press in the country and it was done without any legal justification. He requested the court to direct the LDA to de-seal the SAFMA office. Justice Shahid Karim will hear the case today (Friday).