IHC suspends victory notifications of three PML-N NA candidates from Islamabad

Tariq Fazl Chaudhry, Anjum Aqeel and Raja Khurram Nawaz’s notifications from NA-46, NA-47 and NA-48 suspended

ISLAMABAD   -  The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday suspended the victory no­tifications of three Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidates of the National Assembly constituen­cies from the federal capital.

A two-member bench of the IHC comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Arbab Mu­hammad Tahir conducted hearing of the Intra-court Appeal (ICA) filed by Shoaib Shaheen Advocate and sus­pended the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) notifications declar­ing PML-N’s Tariq Fazl Chaudhry, An­jum Aqeel, and Raja Khurram Nawaz as returned candidates from the con­stituencies of NA-46, 47 and 48. 

The IHC said, “We are told that despite the impugned order having been passed a few days ago, till date the said notification has not been withdrawn.” The IHC bench stated that the facts discerned from the re­cord are that the elections to these National Assembly constituencies NA-47 (Islamabad Capital Territory) took place on 08.02.2024. 

It said in its written order that the appellant is in attendance and sub­mits that there are total 387 polling stations in the said constituency, and that he is in possession of all Form-45 issued by the Presiding Officers of each Polling Station and as per calculation carried out by the appellant on the basis of Form-45 in his possession, he obtained 104,578 votes, where­as his rival candidate, Tariq Fazl Chaudhry secured 51,613 votes. He complained that he was not given access to the returning officer’s office in order to ade­quately complain about the de­lay in the issuance of Form-47 on the basis of Form-45 issued by the presiding officers of the polling stations.

He submitted that on 09.02.2024, the returning offi­cer, in his office, pasted Form-47, according to which, the ap­pellant secured 86,396 votes, whereas Tariq Fazl Chaudhry secured 102,502 votes. This re­sult, according to the appellant, is not in accordance with Form-45 issued by the presiding of­ficers of polling stations in the constituency. Subsequent­ly, however, yet another Form-47 was posted on the website of ECP on 10.02.2024, accord­ing to which, the appellant se­cured 86,794 votes, whereas Tariq Fazl Chaudhry secured 101,397 votes. The appellant submitted that regarding the wrong results which were be­ing shown on the election day on the screen at the return­ing officer’s office, he submit­ted a complaint at 06:41 am on 09.02.2024 to which no re­sponse was given. This caused the appellant to submit a com­plaint to ECP which called for a report from the returning offi­cer. Since the appellant’s griev­ance continued to persist, he, on 09.02.2024, also complained to the district returning officer re­garding the non-issuance of the consolidated results. 

At the time when the said com­plaint was filed, Form-47 had not been issued. However, af­ter Form-47 was issued, the ap­pellant filed a complaint dated 09.02.2024 to ECP for the result to be recalculated / reconsoli­dated. Subsequently, on a com­plaint filed by the appellant, ECP, on 11.02.2024, passed the order suspending the process for the consolidation of result under Section 95 of the Elections Act, 2017, if such process had not been concluded already. 

In order to demonstrate that by the time said order was passed by ECP, the process of the consolidation had not taken place, appellant drew the atten­tion of the Court to letter dated 11.02.2024 from the returning officer, which showed that the process of consolidation had been postponed due to the or­ders passed by ECP. 

The petitioner mentioned that there was nothing on the record to show that the process of the consolidation as envisaged by Section 95 of the Elections Act, 2017, had taken place as yet. In other words, till date nei­ther Form-48 nor Form-49 had been issued. In these circum­stances, it was not appropriate for ECP when seized of a com­plaint regarding the elections, to have issued the notification dat­ed 11.02.2024 impugned in the writ petition No.499/2024. 

He added that it also ought to be noted that such notification could not have been prima facie issued in the presence of ECP’s order dated 11.02.2024, which, till date, has not been modified or withdrawn.

The IHC bench noted in its order, “Since we have prima facie found the notification dated 11.02.2024 to be incom­patible with the order dated 11.02.2024 passed by ECP in case No.F.7(9)/2024-Law-III, we direct ECP to produce on the next date of hearing all the record leading to the issuance of the said notification dated 11.02.2024.

The instant appeal is also ac­companied with an application for an interim relief for the sus­pension of the impugned or­der dated 14.02.2024 passed by the learned Judge-in- Cham­bers as well as notification dat­ed 11.02.2024 issued by ECP. 

At this stage, the bench said, “we are not inclined to suspend the proceedings before ECP which shall be taken to their log­ical conclusion and if need be a notification of the returned can­didate be issued after the issu­ance of Form-48 and Form-49 in accordance with the law. How­ever, until this process is com­pleted, the operation of the noti­fication dated 11.02.2024 which was impugned in writ petition No.499/2024 is suspended.”

Later, the bench issued notice to respondents and deferred the hearing of the case till February 21 for further proceedings.

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