ISLAMABAD: Syeda Nosheen Iftikhar, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who contested NA-75 Sialkot by-poll, said on Monday that Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) February 25 short order followed by its detailed verdict on March 08 regarding election controversy in the constituency was entirely ‘just, fair and lawful’.
The PML-N candidate who contested the by-election on February 19 filed a concise statement in apex court through her counsel Salman Akram Raja in response to a petition filed by her rival candidate of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against ECP order of re-polling in NA-75.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial will hear PTI leader Ali Asjad Malhi’s petition today. PTI leader has filed an appeal against the ECP under Section 9 (5) of Election Act, 2017 and asked the apex court to set aside its order. The ECP on 1st March decided that re-poll in the entire constituency (NA-75 Sialkot-IV) should be held.
Nosheen submitted that the ECP’s 19th February order is based both on the extensiveness of the illegalities committed in the bye-elections. The ECP order is administrative in nature and reflects an administrative assessment of the circumstances in which the poll was held on 19-02-2021. In arriving at its determination the ECP has examined the material placed before it by the parties as well as the material and information obtained by it from its own sources.
She stated that in passing the Order and the detailed reasoning the ECP has discharged its obligations owed to the electorate of NA-75 who were denied conducive environment for expressing their democratic will.
She submitted that in her affidavit, supported by the record, she had clearly sought setting aside the entire election that was held on 19-02-2021 in NA-75, Daska.
She informed that the apex court in Aftab Shahban Mirani case stated that “conclusive evidence and proof of facts regarding illegal and corrupt practices is not the requirement of law for exercise of power by the Commission under section 103AA of Representation of the People Act, 1976, predecessor of Section 9 of Election Act, 2017, rather the Commission if on the basis of tentative assessment of the material available before it is satisfied regarding the correctness of the allegations, may pass an order if it deems proper in the circumstances of the case.
Nosheen stated that the ECP in its order and the reasoning has taken note of the conspiracy hatched to deny the voters of NA-75 a conducive environment for expressing their democratic will. The ECP also noted how the local as well the provincial administration failed to cooperate with the Commission and its officers for fair and free election in Daska.
It is clear that 20 Presiding Officers along with ballot bags were held up in mysterious circumstances between the evening of 19-02-2021 and the night of 20-02-2021. The Returning Officer has noted in his report dated 21-02-2021 that when the Presiding Officers turned up they appeared ‘terrified and puzzled’. It is also clear that incidents of murder and firing as well as general disorder leading to suspension of polling at a large number of polling stations created an atmosphere of fear all across the constituency. The relevant facts were gathered by the ECP itself apart from the submission made, and material placed before the ECP by her.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021