ISLAMABAD: Earlier this week, Asjad Malhi, the PTI candidate who contested the by-election for the NA-75 (Daska) constituency last month, moved the Supreme Court against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to declare the by-poll void and hold a fresh election in the constituency.
Malhi maintains the ECP’s decision has “no legal justification” was the order was “clearly contrary to law and facts of the case. The petitioner further contended, the ECP had taken the decision in “complete oblivion” of the circumstances and facts, thus making the ECP’s order “manifestly unjust and illegal”.
A day after the Feb 19 by-election, ECP said that the results of 20 polling stations might have been falsified in the by-election for the NA-75 (Daska) constituency as the PML-N alleged massive rigging. The commission also noted that the results were received after “unnecessary delay”, and the commission would not contact the presiding officers during this time.
The election commission had stopped the district returning officer (DRO) and returning officer (RO) from announcing the by-election’s initial results and directed them to conduct a complete inquiry and identify those responsible for the mismanagement.
A five-member ECP bench headed by the Chief Election Commissioner (ECP) heard the case, and the decision was announced in the presence of the candidates. The ECP ordered that re-elections be held in Daska on March 18. The order was issued using the powers conferred to the ECP under Article 218 (3) of the Constitution and Article 19 (1) of the Election Act, 2017. It noted that “on the day of the election, chaos was spread in the entire constituency.”
In his petition, Malhi said it was “not legal” for the ECP to decide the matter pending before it “through a short order having drastic results.” He further argued that the order violated Article 10-A of the Constitution that ensures the right to a fair trial and due process and hence rendering Article 225, which regulates election disputes, redundant.
The petition added, the ECP had also violated Section 9 of the Elections Act, 2017 (power of the commission to declare a poll void) because there was “no basis for the alleged satisfaction of the Election Commission that the election was marred by grave illegalities which had materially affected the result of the entire constituency”.
The petitioner asked the Supreme Court to set aside the ECP’s order and direct it to declare and notify the by-election result under Section 124 of the Elections Act, 2017.
Malhi has also made PML-N’s candidate from NA-75 Nousheen Iftikhar Shah a respondent in his petition, along with the ECP.