PTI’s first petition accepted by Multan tribunal
ISLAMABAD, March 25, 2015: The election tribunals constituted by the Election Commission of Pakistan decided three cases in February 2015 – bringing the total number of decided cases to 367 out of 411. As many as 44 petitions are still awaiting decisions.
Of the 367 cases, 154 have been dismissed on grounds of technical deficiencies – implying that the merits of the petitions were not adjudicated on. Forty-four petitions have been accepted; 25 dismissed due to non-prosecution; 30 dismissed as withdrawn and 112 dismissed after complete trial. The reasons for dismissal of two petitions are not known to FAFEN due to non-availability of their copies of orders.
With regards to the 44 petitions accepted, 10 were filed by independent candidates and nine each by PPPP and PML-N. One of the petitions filed by PTI was accepted by the Multan tribunal in February 2015 – making it first petition filed by the party to be accepted.
Given the backlog, the ECP seems to have failed to ensure compliance with the mandatory legal provision of disposing of election petitions within 120 days of receipt by the tribunals. Meanwhile, FAFEN has observed 2,653 adjournments of over seven days in the tribunals, in violation of election laws and ECP’s directions which urge the tribunals to hear the petitions on a day-to-day basis and do not allow an adjournment of more than seven days.
The ECP constituted 14 tribunals across the country to redress election-related complaints following the 2013 General Elections. The three tribunals in Balochistan have ceased functioning after deciding all their cases. The tribunal in Dera Ismail Khan has also finished its work, while Sukkur and Karachi tribunals have also ceased operations. On the other hand, the ECP extended the tenures of the remaining eight tribunals for the fourth time till April 30, 2015 following the expiry of their terms of contracts on February 28, 2015.
The election results were officially notified on May 22, 2013 following which the candidates had until July 6, 2013 to submit their petitions. The ECP received a total of 409 petitions, out of which 25 were dismissed by the commission itself during scrutiny. As many as 384 petitions were referred to the tribunals – one petition was sent back by the Rawalpindi tribunal and dismissed by ECP itself due to non-prosecution, bringing the number of cases dismissed by the ECP to 26. Another petition was filed directly with the tribunal in Lahore, bypassing the legal mechanism which resulted in its dismissal at the initial stage. Furthermore, another petition was filed with the ECP in June 2014 and dismissed by the Lahore tribunal in the same month, bringing the total number of petitions to 411.
Most of the petitions were moved by contesting candidates, while three petitions were filed by voters. Independent candidates filed a total of 99 petitions, followed by PML-N members who filed 66 petitions – 12 against PTI and 14 against PPPP. PTI filed a total of 58 petitions – 43 against winning candidates of the ruling PML-N and only one against PPPP. In addition, PPPP members filed 50 petitions – 19 against PML-N and only one against PTI.
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