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March 11, 2021

SC seeks Daska by-elections’ record from ECP

Top Story

March 11, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday sought complete record from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) pertaining to by-elections held last month in NA-75 Daska.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umer Ata Bandial heard the petition of PTI candidate Ali Asjad Malhi, challenging the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of February 25, declaring the by-election in NA-75 Daska void and ordering re-polling. The court issued notices to PML-N candidate Nausheen Iftikhar as well as the ECP besides seeking complete record on the by-poll from ECP.

During the course of hearing, Justice Bandial observed that it is the constitutional mandate of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold elections fairly in accordance with the law. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, another member of the bench, observed that the Election Commission of Pakistan has the authority to take action without receiving a formal application. The judge however, questioned for what reasons the commission ordered re-election in the whole constituency.

The counsel representing Nausheen Iftikhar informed the court that 23 presiding officers were “kidnapped” during the election. The court sought information regarding the area where a firing incident took place in the constituency and directed the commission to submit all records on the basis of which the elections were declared void. The court held that it will review the plea of the petitioner, a stay order on the upcoming by-election after it reviews all records submitted to the court and the detailed order issued by the ECP on March 8.

The court issued notices to Nausheen Iftikhar and other parties in the case and adjourned the hearing till March 16. Meanwhile, ECP decided to reschedule the NA-75 Daska by-election to April 10. According to the announcement made on Wednesday, the by-election date has been changed from March 18 to April 10 to make the conduct of polls transparent and administrative matters foolproof.

Earlier, the ECP had decided to conduct the by-poll on March 18, 2021. The by-poll was originally held on February 19 but had to be declared null and void after the results in 20 polling stations were suspected to be "tampered with."

Subsequently, the commission issued an order for fresh polls to be conducted. The Election Commission pointed out that the Punjab government drew the attention of the commission to the issue that after the suspension and transfer of all district and divisional officers, the newly appointed officers need some time to understand and fully control the administrative situation. Therefore, after deliberations, the ECP directed the Punjab government to immediately appoint administrative officers to the vacant posts on permanent basis and decided that polling at NA-75 Daska would now be held on Saturday, April 10, 2021.