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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rigged Elections-Ex-judge files plea in SC against 2013 polls

As if the continuing sit-in on the Constitution Avenue demanding dissolution of the assemblies were not enough, a former Supreme Court judge has filed a petition in his own institution, seeking a declaration that last year’s general elections were illegal.

The petition was filed on Saturday by a former judge from Bahawalpur, Mahmood Akhter Shahid Siddiqui, through his counsel Mian Allah Nawaz, pleading to order fresh elections. Justice Siddiqui had retired on Oct 3, 2011.

The petitioner also sought a directive to the political parties to exercise their right of protest and free speech in accordance with the law while ensuring peace and tranquillity.

The petition was filed two days after the publication of a damning report by a commission comprising Sheikh Mohammad Tareef, a retired district and sessions judge appointed to examine polling bags and other record of the National Assembly’s constituency NA-125, Lahore, from where Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq won the elections. The commission found several irregularities in the elections.

Apex court asked to issue orders for fresh elections
The petitioner sought orders to the appropriate authorities to punish after initiating criminal as well as departmental actions the members of the Election Commission and officers who purchased defective ink from the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) laboratories and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and supplied it to the returning officers and presiding officers for use in polling stations.

The petitioner said the main issue was why ECP members, ROs and POs did not follow the statutory pre-requisites to the election process.

He said he had conducted preliminary investigation by interviewing ECP members and discovered that the commission had deliberately and with hideous intentions not performed its duties laid down in the statutes.

He claimed that the ECP had admitted in a report that the PCSIR and Nadra had submitted three samples of magnetic ink -- one containing chemicals which could retain thumb impressions for a long time, the second effective for over a year and the third that had the capacity to maintain the impressions for not more than five hours.

The ECP spent about Rs2 billion on the preparation and printing of ballot papers from the state exchequer.

The former judge alleged that the ECP members, including the former chief election commissioner, had committed a heinous crime that even Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had to admit before the National Assembly by acknowledging that more than 30,000 ballot papers were unverifiable in every constituency since the ridges of the thumb impression of voters had spread.

The petition said the ink used was defective and was suicidal to the transparency of the electoral process.

The current situation had arisen out of the acts of misfeasance, malfeasance, omission and commission of totally criminal negligence on part of ECP, the petition said and added that these acts which had plunged the nation into a trauma not known to history of electoral process under the Constitution could not be remedied before any institution, election tribunals or even the ECP.

Since the announcement of the results of the elections, the country had plunged into uncertainty, agitation and violence and the state had almost turned into an oligarchy, it said.

“Thus no remedy under the Constitution or under the law is available to the citizens of the state except the plenary and inherent constitutional jurisdiction of the Supreme Court,” the petition argued.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2014