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ECP puts on hold Sumaira Malik’s victory notification

ISLAMABAD: A day after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declaring void the election of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Sumaira Malik as chairperson of the Khushab District Council, the ECP on Tuesday chose to put on hold issuance of her victory’s notification and summoned all parties to appear before it on Jan 5.

The counsel for Ms Malik on Tuesday filed an application with the Chief Election Commissioner, informing him that the order for re-poll in Khushab issued by the commission on Dec 28 has been suspended by the IHC.

He also appended copies of the petition filed with the IHC assailing the ECP’s order and the order passed by the IHC to suspend it, with the request to stop further proceedings in the matter.

He also sought issuance of a formal notification declaring Ms Malik as the returned candidate in the election for the office of the district council chairperson.

In what appeared to be a strange move, the ECP decided to hear the application seeking issuance of notification on Jan 5 (tomorrow) and issued notices to the parties, including Ms Malik and Malik Amir Haider Sangha on whose petition the election had been declared void.

The ECP on Dec 28 had annulled the election of Ms Malik as chairperson of the council by a majority vote of three to one on the basis of allegation of a voter flaunting his ballot paper at the time of polling.

Legal experts believe that after suspension of the ECP’s order by the high court, the notification of the returning officer declaring Ms Malik a victor holds the field and the ECP under the Punjab Local Government Act’s Section 37 is required to issue a formal notification. “Every election or removal of an elected member shall be notified by the Election Commission,” the Section reads.

The Section 38 (1) of the Act reads: “Subject to this Act, an election to an office of a local government shall not be called in question except by an election petition”, and the Section 38 (2) explains that: “A candidate may, in the prescribed manner, file an election petition before the Election Tribunal challenging an election under this Act.”

The ECP bench that annulled the election was headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan and comprised Abdul Ghaffar Soomro (from Sindh), retired Justice Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi (Punjab) and retired Justice Shakeel Ahmed Baloch (Balochistan). Retired Justice Qureshi dissented with the majority decision.

“For the reasons to be recorded separately and with a majority of three to one, the petition is accepted. The election dated 22nd December, 2016, for the seat of Chairman/Vice Chairman, District Council Khushab is set aside and it is hereby directed that the re-poll be conducted for which the schedule be issued by the office,” a short order of the ECP said.

The issue of alleged violation of the secrecy of the ballot had earlier been taken up by petitioner Ameer Haider Sangha with the returning officer for Khushab, Abdul Hameed Khan Sambhal, who had observed in his order that the matter should have been settled when it had occurred.

“In my opinion, no further action is required,” Mr Sambhal had said, citing the reply of the presiding officer who had declared that the election had been completed without any disturbance.

courtesy : dawn news

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