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Karachi

August 11, 2018

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SHC vacates restraining order, asks ECP to notify winning PTI candidates

The Sindh High Court on Friday vacated its restraining order with regard to notifying the names of three Paksitan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) candidates who won two national and one provincial assembly seats in the July 25 general elections and directed the election commission to issue notifications of the returned candidates.

The court asked the aggrieved candidates to approach the election tribunal for the recounting of the votes and the resolution of other election-related disputes, and directed the election tribunal to decide the vote recount matter within one month strictly in accordance with the law.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Mian Shehbaz Sharif, its provincial assembly candidate Saleheen and PPP candidate Abdul Hakim Baloch had filed petitions seeking the recounts of the ballots cast in

National Assembly constituencies NA-249 and NA-237, and provincial assembly constituency PS-116 Karachi.

One petitioner’s counsel submitted that PML-N candidate Mian Shehbaz Sharif had contested the election in NA-249 and secured 34,626 votes, whereas PTI candidate Mohammad Faisal Vawda secured 35,349 votes. He submitted that there was a difference of only 723 votes between the petitioner and the PTI candidate, whereas the number of the rejected votes was 2,684.

He stated that the petitioner moved an application for the recounting of the votes before the returning officer, but it was rejected though it was the responsibility of the RO to carry out the exercise as per Section 95 of the Election Act. He submitted that the petitioner also approached the ECP for a vote recount, but he was informed that the process of consolidation had been completed; therefore, he may approach the appropriate forum through an election petition.

The counsel referred to the orders of the Lahore and Sindh high courts in identical matters where the recounting of votes had been ordered after giving notices to the all contesting candidates.

Another PML-N candidate Saleheen submitted that he secured 9,711 votes from PS-115, whereas PTI candidate Malik Shahzad Awan got 9,966 votes in which 973 votes were declared invalid.

He submitted that the vote difference between the petitioner and the respondent was just 255. He said that the returning officer rejected his application for recounting the votes contrary to the Election Act.

PPP candidate Abdul Hakeem Baloch submitted that he secured 31,907 votes from NA-237 Karachi, whereas PTI candidate Jamil Ahmed Khan obtained 33,269 votes, a difference of 1,362 votes. He said that the number of rejected votes was 2,184 and the returning officer did not give any plausible reason in the impugned order for rejecting the application for a vote recount.

An election commission representative said that election tribunals were being constituted to decide election-related disputes and requested the court to dismiss the petitions as not maintainable. He said that the Supreme Court also disposed of the aggrieved candidates’ petitions with regard to the recounting of votes and asked them to approach the concerned election tribunal for the redressal of their grievances.

The respondents’ counsel submitted that the respondents had been declared winners by the returning officers and the court’s restraining order was affecting their right to cast votes for electing the leader of the house. They requested the court to vacate the restraining court order and direct the election commission to issue the notifications of the respondents as returned candidates.

A division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after hearing the arguments of the case, disposed of the petitions with directives to the petitioners to approach the election tribunal for the resolution of their election-related disputes.

The court directed the election tribunal to decide the application for the recounting of the votes on a priority basis if filed by the petitioners within one month strictly in accordance with the law.

It also vacated the interim restraining order and directed the ECP to issue notifications of the returned candidates as per the law.

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