Home Latest News ECP Transfers Pleas against Islamabad Seats to New Tribunal

ECP Transfers Pleas against Islamabad Seats to New Tribunal

Order issued on plea of three PMLN MNAs who pointed out ‘irregularities’ in functioning of existing tribunal

by Staff Report

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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday transferred three petitions pending before an election tribunal in Islamabad to a fresh tribunal headed by a retired high court judge, as it accepted applications filed by PMLN lawmakers voicing no-confidence in the previous tribunal.

A four-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja announced its verdict on all three applications submitted by PMLN lawmakers from Islamabad Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Anjum Aqeel Khan and Raja Khurram Nawaz. In their petition, the lawmakers had contended that they did not believe they get justice from the incumbent tribunal. By contrast, the PTI lawmakers contesting the PMLN’s wins had alleged the move was a mala fide act to impede justice.

The ECP order notes Section 151 of the Elections Act, 2017 empowers the electoral body to transfer election petitions from one tribunal to another at any stage. Citing a recently enacted ordinance—already challenged in a court of law—the ECP has transferred the petitions filed against the PMLN lawmakers by the PTI to a poll tribunal for Rawalpindi and Islamabad headed by a retired judge.

According to the order, Rule 140 of Rules 2017 has made it mandatory for an election petition presented before any tribunal, lacking any legal requirement provided in Sections 142-144 of the Elections Act. 2017 to be placed before the tribunal for summary rejection of the same in term of sub-section-I of Section 145. The verdict notes “the record reveals that on [May 2, 2024] on the very first hearing, the tribunal directed the ECP to submit original forms 45 and 46, respectively,” although the ECP was not implicated by the present respondent as party in the panel of respondents.

It stressed that “there is no option available to a tribunal to cure any legal defect occasioned therein the election petition, prescribed under Section 142 to 144 of the Elections Act, 2017 and in case, if any provision of Section 142, 143 or 144 of the Elections Act, 2017 is not complied with, such election petition shall be summarily rejected in terms of Section 145(l) of the Act, 2017.” For a petition submitted after the statutory period, “such legal defect could not be requisitioned either by the office of the tribunal or the tribunal itself.”

Noting it was the ECP’s “exclusive domain” to provide complete justice to the parties in the petition and for fair decision in the matter in accordance with the law and the rules, the ECP reiterated it has the jurisdiction to appoint fresh election tribunals and to “withdraw any election petition for swift disposal of the same.” While maintaining “utmost respect and regard to the presiding officer” of the existing tribunal, the order said it was necessary to remove all “apprehensions” over some “apparent” illegalities and irregularities. In this regard, it noted the acceptance of a delayed petition in violation of any existing jurisdiction or legal authority.

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