SHC dismisses petition against ECP decision

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday dismissed a petition against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision that transferred an election petition against victory of Syed Qaim Ali Shah on the provincial assembly seat (PS-29) from Karachi election tribunal to Hyderabad election tribunal.

A division bench, headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, dismissed the petition after hearing arguments from both sides.

The chief minister had won provincial assembly seat PS-29 in the 2013 general elections. His victory was challenged by Syed Ghous Ali Shah, the rival candidate belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), who emerged the runner-up. In the election petition, the PML-N candidate alleged massive irregularities in the elections and sought the chief minister’s disqualification.

The petitioner, Syed Ghous Ali Shah, moved the court assailing ECP’s order, transferring his election petition to Hyderabad election tribunal.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the chief minister had filed an application under Section 58 of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1976, before the ECP, requesting it to transfer election petition against his victory from Karachi election tribunal to any other tribunal, but it was dismissed. Subsequently, the ECP revisited its decision following the direction of SHC when it was approached by the chief minister.

The counsel said that the chief election commissioner passed an order on the CM’s application on March 03, transferring election petition against his victory to Hyderabad election tribunal.

He claimed that Mohammad Ashfaq Balouch, the presiding officer of Hyderabad election tribunal, who had also served as district and sessions judge at Khairpur district, had close relationship with the chief minister, adding the presiding officer and his relatives are staunch supporters of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

He told the judges that the Karachi election tribunal had already reserved its verdict on the election petition after recording evidences and statements.

He stated that the presiding officer is biased against his client and party, and therefore, he pleaded to the court to set aside the ECP’s transfer order. Moreover, he prayed to the court to suspend the ECP’s notification whereby it extended the working period of all tribunals except Karachi election tribunal from March 1 to April 30.

In response to the court notice, the chief minister’s counsel filed comments, raising objections to maintainability of the petition. He argued that the ECP had unanimously issued a decision, transferring the election petition to Hyderabad election tribunal while dismissing petitioner’s application against the transfer.

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