LAHORE - Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Wednesday declined to stay proceedings on an appeal moved by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan with the election tribunal for public inspection of the election record and ballot papers used in the NA-122 Constituency of Lahore.
The chief justice, however, issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the PTI chairman on the petition filed by National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, challenging an order of the ECP allowing the public inspection of the election record.
Earlier, the petitioner through Barrister Syeda Maqsooma Zehra Bukhari, submitted that he was a candidate of PML-N for NA-122 and was declared a winner.
The lawyer said the petitioner had no objection to the inspection of the election record except the ballot papers in terms of Section 45 of Representation of the People Act, 1976. Barrister Maqsooma Zehra Bukhari said the ECP’s orders for inspection of the election record were incorrect as the returning officer didn’t have any record because the same had already been forwarded to the ECP under Section 44 of the ROPA 1976.
The court observed that prima facie the provisions of Section 45 of the ROPA envisaged permission for the public inspection of permissible record to be granted by the ECP or election tribunal under Section 46.
The counsel for the petitioner said there was no remedy of review available against the ECP order dated June 18. She pointed out that presently the proceedings before the returning officer concerned were at the stage of filing reply by the petitioner to the fresh application of the PTI chairman. The RO now didn’t have jurisdiction to conduct the proceedings assigned to him under the impugned order, the lawyer contended.
She requested the court to annul the order issued by the ECP on June 18, declaring it illegal and unconstitutional. She also requested the court to stay the proceedings on the application moved by the PTI chairman till the final disposal of the case.
After hearing initial arguments, the chief justice directed the ECP to state whether the petitioner had an alternate remedy for the relief sought in the petition and whether the returning officer had the jurisdiction to the conduct the proceedings assigned to him under the impugned order.
Refusing to stay the proceedings on Imran Khan’s application, the court observed that presently there was no ground to interfere in the proceedings as Ayaz Sadiq agreed to the substantive relief sought by Imran Khan in his application. The court observed the only question was whether such public inspection would be valid in law or not.
The court will take up the matter on September 3.