Poll petitions may not be decided again this year

February 05, 2013 - 4:59:10 am

PESHAWAR: Like previous years, dozens of election petitions for disqualification of members of the provincial and national assemblies of Pakistan are likely to remain undecided, as the assemblies will be dissolved before March 16.

Section 67 (1A) of the Representation of People’s Act 1976 makes it mandatory on an election tribunal to proceed with the trial of a petition on a daily basis and take decisions within four months from its receipt.

Losing candidates filed petitions in the hope that winners would be disqualified. However, like previous elections, they fear their petitions may not be decided.

“We have suffered mentally and financially due to the five-year legal  battle,” Shahid Khan, a runner-up candidate from PK-27, Mardan-V, said yesterday. He said that it was the 18th month the tribunal had not heard his petition against Senior Minister Rahimdad Khan.

“I don’t think the tribunal will settle the case in the remaining few days,” he told reporters.

Khan said that the election commission was also delaying action against MPs who had won elections on fake degrees though the universities concerned and the Higher Education Commission had declared them fake after verification.

He said that on November 5, the Supreme Court declared that the commission could independently act against legislators holding fake degrees. Khan filed a petition against the minister, claiming that he had produced a fake bachelor’s degree before the commission to contest elections.

Proceedings on petitions have been going on at a snail’s pace as the presiding officers of the tribunals, who are judges of the high court, are engaged in their routine  functions. The winning candidates also employ delaying tactics.

Senior lawyer Qazi Muhammad Anwar, who has been dealing with petitions since 1977, said that due to lengthy procedure for disposal of petitions under the Civil Procedure Code in every election, only two or three petitions were disposed of and the rest became void after the dissolution of the assemblies. He suggested appointment of the chief election commissioner instead of nominating sitting high court judges as presiding officers of the tribunal.

Two ministers and a member of the National Assembly are facing fake degree cases. They are PPP’s Senior Minister Rahimdad Khan, Labour Minister Sher Azam Wazir and Member of the National Assembly Akhunzada Chattan.                                     Internews