SC Moved To Stop Formation Of Govt In Light Of Pindi Commissioner's 'Confession'

Petition filed by Sher Afzal Marwat urges top court to stop ECP's probe into the commissioner's statements, set aside all Form-47s, set up a judicial commission to review results of Pindi per Form-45

SC Moved To Stop Formation Of Govt In Light Of Pindi Commissioner's 'Confession'

The Supreme Court on Friday was asked to stop the formation of the new government and to set aside the Form-47s of all national and provincial assembly constituencies.

This was urged as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and the party's choice returned candidate from NA-41, Sher Afzal Marwat, filed a petition in the top court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. 

Marwat, who had filed the petition through Advocate Syed Rafaqat Hussain Shah and Riaz Hanif Rahi, argued that the press conference by Rawalpindi Division Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chattha had raised serious doubts on the credibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

In the petition, Marwat noted how Chattha had confessed to issuing orders to ensure candidates who were winning with large margins in the constituencies of the Rawalpindi Division were made to lose while the losing candidates were declared victorious.

"Chattha demanded an immediate and independent audit of election results," he further stated.

Marwat argued against the ECP forming a committee to probe Chattha's allegations, noting that it would "not qualify the test of fairness, honesty, and impartiality because ECP is itself under allegation and involved not only by Chattha but also by leaders of different parties, i.e. Jamat-i-Islami, JUI, TTP, PTI who claimed, "Winning seats had been turned into defeat"."

The PTI-linked lawyer also pointed to an article by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, which argued that "vote count transmitted by the presiding officers on Form-45 and the consolidation of the polling stations results in form-47 at the returning officer's office has caused great discrepancy and rigging as alleged by the leaders of many political parties in order to obtain the constituency results."

He cited grounds including how the ECP has failed to conduct elections honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law within the meanings of Article 218 (3) of the Constitution. How mobile signals and internet services were not accessible on the day of polling, which evidence is sufficient to prove unfairness.

Marwat urged the court to halt the process of forming the new government and set aside the appointment of the chief election commissioner and the four provincial election commissioners while declaring orders passed by them as illegal, coram non-judice, without jurisdiction and of no legal effect.
He further urged the Supreme Court to set aside ECP's notification to set up a committee to probe Chattha's allegations and to direct the federal government to set up a judicial commission to probe the matter and to compile/consolidate/tabulate afresh the overall election results, including for the Rawalpindi Division, based on form-45s.

The top court was urged to set aside Form-47 of all the national and provincial constituencies, which have been prepared in violation of Sec. 13 (3) of the Election Act, 2017.

Draw guidelines for all the executive and judicial functionaries seized of election duties to prevent and obviate all the possibilities of corruption, corrupt practices, unfairness, unjust and abuse of process of law and constitution to ensure fair and transparent elections in the future.

It is pertinent to note that the court threw out a petition filed shortly after the February 8 elections to declare the elections as null and void earlier this week after the petitioner fled the country and requested to withdraw the case. 

During the hearing of that case, attempts to argue the matter by PTI-linked lawyer Shaukat Basra were stopped by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa on the pretext that he was not listed as a party to the case or as a respondent.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain