79 Election Petitions Still Await Decisions

ISLAMABAD, September 12, 2014: The election tribunals decided five cases from August 11 to 31, 2014 – bringing the total number of decided cases to 331 out of 410 (305 out of 384 by the tribunals and 26 by the ECP) while 79 petitions (19%) are still pending with the election tribunals.

Given the backlog, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seems to have failed to ensure compliance with the mandatory legal provision of disposing of election petitions within 120 days of receipt. Section 67(1)A of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976 says that “where a petition is not decided within four months further adjournment sought by any party shall be given only on payment of special cost of Rs 10,000 per adjournment and an adjournment shall not be given for more than three days.”

Even though all the pending cases have crossed the limit of 120 days, no tribunal has complied with the mandatory provision of imposing fine to the responsible party. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has already emphasized that the tribunals should follow the above-mentioned provision strictly. The ECP constituted 14 tribunals across the country following the General Elections 2013 to redress election-related complaints of contesting candidates. The ECP received 409 petitions, while one petition was filed directly with the election tribunal in Lahore.

Most of the petitions were moved by contesting candidates, while three petitions were filed by voters. Independent candidates filed 98 petitions, followed by PML-N candidates with 66 petitions – 12 against PTI and 14 against PPPP. Of the 12 petitions against PTI, only one has been accepted so far. Eight petitions against PTI have been dismissed while three still await decisions. Meanwhile, none of the petitions filed by PML-N against PPPP have been accepted.

PTI filed 58 petitions – 43 against winning candidates of PML-N. Of these 43 petitions, 20 were filed to resolve disputes over National Assembly seats while the rest were related to the provincial assemblies. One petition was filed by PTI against PPPP to resolve a dispute over a National Assembly seat in Sindh. So far, none of the petitions filed by PTI against either party have been accepted. Twenty-eight petitions (27 against PML-N and one against PPPP) have been dismissed while 16 are still awaiting decisions.

In addition, PPPP members filed 50 petitions that included 19 against PML-N and one against PTI. The only petition against PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was dismissed by the tribunal. Of the 19 petitions against PML-N, only two have been accepted; 13 dismissed while four are pending with the respective tribunals.