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PHC asks ECP to provide Form 45 to nine election losers

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PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to provide attested documents about election results, including Form 45, to nine Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-backed independent candidates, including six former lawmakers.

A bench consisting of Justice Shakeel Ahmad and Justice Syed Arshad Ali disposed of nine almost identical petitions filed by the candidates against the non-provision of election documents to them by the commission and the relevant returning officers.

The petitioners had sought the court’s orders for the ECP as well as Peshawar’s district returning officer and returning officers to immediately provide them with attested copies of Forms 45, 46, 47, 48 and 49 of their respective national and provincial assembly constituencies.

The petitioners include former provincial ministers Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra (PK-79) and Kamran Khan Bangash (PK-82), former deputy speaker of the KP Assembly Mahmood Jan (PK-72), former MNAs Sajid Nawaz (NA-28) and Hameedul Haq (PK-80), former MPA Arbab Jehandad Khan (PK-74), former district nazim Mohammad Asim (PK-78), and lawyers Ali Zaman (PK-73) and Malik Shahab (PK-75).

PTI nominees had challenged denial of poll documents

The petitioners claimed that as per Form 45 received by their polling agents from the presiding officers, they won elections in each of the polling stations by a big margin, but the returning officers manipulated the results and issued controversial Form 47 (provisional election results), declaring their rivals as returned candidates.

They contended that they filed applications with ROs, DRO and district election commissioner to get attested copies of Forms 45, 46, 47, 48 and 49, but they were driven from pillar to post with the respondents shifting the responsibility onto each other.

Shumail Ahmad Butt, Ali Gohar Durrani, Ali Azim Afridi, Najmus Saleheen and Ansab Abdullah, lawyers for the petitioners, argued that the provisions of the Elections Act, 2017, were violated as neither those forms were uploaded on the ECP website within 14 days after polling as required by Section 95(10) of the law nor were they allowed public inspection of poll documents under Section 100 of the law.

Lawyer for the ECP Mohsin Kamran Siddique said the commission had been uploading Forms 45, 46 and 47 soon after receiving it from the relevant returning officers.

He claimed that the ECP was taking action against ROs who had not submitted those forms to it within the stipulated time.

The counsel added that the commission had uploaded the forms to its website from where it could be acquired by the petitioners. He added that the same could be obtained from ROs.

However, the bench observed that the Election Rules 2017 provided that the ECP should be giving documents to the candidates.

The counsel for the petitioners said the ECP was bound by Rule 91 of the Act to provide attested copies to election candidates.

They said Forms 45 and 47 were feared to be tampered with on a daily basis.

The bench observed that once they got attested copies of the documents, those couldn’t be tampered with.

It also sought the ECP’s response until March 14 to the petitions about the consolidation of election results on the basis of Form 45.

The bench directed the ECP to produce its detailed judgement on the matter.

The petitioners said they earlier got the high court’s orders for respondents to consolidate election results on the basis of Form 45 issued by the presiding officers.

They, however, said the ECP had rejected their respective petitions through short orders while no detailed reasoning was yet available.

The petitioners said the ECP directed them to approach election tribunals for the redressal of their grievances.