ECP rejects PTI candidate’s plea for votes recount in PP-7
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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday rejected the PTI’s application for votes recount in 21 polling stations of PP-7 on which the by-election was held four days ago, on July 17, 2022, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
PTI candidate Shabbir Awan had filed the petition in the ECP after the high court order.
PML-N’s candidate had beaten PTI’s Awan by just 49 votes following which the latter approached the returning officer (RO), who refused to count the votes again.
It was only after that the PTI candidate had moved the high court.
In the brief ruling, CEC Sikandar Raja said that the petitioner, PTI candidate Shabbir Awan, could neither prove any fraud or irregularity during the polls, nor was he able to state the reasons for the recount.
During the Punjab by-elections on Sunday, PML-N’s Raja Sagheer had won the by-poll on the provincial assembly seat with a margin of just 49 votes, defeating Awan. The PTI had also raised questions over the delayed announcement of the result in the constituency.
Subsequently, Awan submitted an application to the returning officer and requested a recount. His plea was, however, rejected drawing criticism from the PTI.
Later, Awan had approached the Lahore High Court's Rawalpindi bench assailing the RO’s "illegal decision" of rejecting plea for recount in PP-7.
But on Wednesday, the court restrained the RO from consolidating the result of PP-7 and converted Awan's petition challenging the RO’s decision to reject plea for recount into an application to be taken up by the ECP.
“In order to streamline the process, the petitioner is directed to appear before the respondent [ECP] on July 21 at 10am when the needful shall be done,” it had said.
The PTI's petition claimed the results were uploaded on the RTS system.
During the hearing today, CEC observed that the PTI had not filed any application until 5pm on the day of the election.
"You submitted a request to the R&I department but withdrew it after 10 minutes," he noted, saying that even after that the PTI blamed the ECP.
The CEC then called the officials of the R&I branch and asked them to submit a written account of everything that happened on the day of the polls, adding that all the matters should be clear.
Here, Awan's counsel said that his client was present in court at the orders of the LHC.
Subsequently, reading out PTI's petition which was submitted to the high court, ECP's chief refuted the party's claim that the RTS system was used during the by-polls.
At the outset of the hearing, Awan's counsel said that they had approached the court as the margin between the votes of the two parties was very thin.
"Our law states that if the margin is less than five per cent, a request for a recount can be filed."
He contended that as soon as the results were announced, his client had immediately approached the RO and later the court for a recount.
For his part, PML-N leader Raja Sagheer's lawyer called PTI's request "baseless". "They failed to prove their point even in front of the RO.
"At first they were talking about the entire constituency. Now they are talking about 21 polling stations," he said, adding that PTI's stance was invalid because it kept changing.