Poll petition review by tribunals slow

December 10, 2013 - 10:08:32 am
ISLAMABAD: Election tribunals established by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) across the country decided till the end of October only one-fourth of the petitions filed by candidates after the May 11 polls, says a report released by an independent observers’ group yesterday.

“Fourteen election tribunals set up all over the country have decided only 95 out of 373 cases heard till October 31 and at least 18 petitions have completed legally stipulated time of 120 days awaiting a decision,” says Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) in a press release.

Based on the observation of proceedings of tribunals to redress election-related complaints by candidates, Fafen said that most of the petitions would take beyond 120 days for a decision.

Fafen is commissioning a legal study with the help of 18 trained and non-partisan lawyers who observe tribunals’ proceedings and collect information. The ECP officially notified election results on May 22 after which candidates had 45 days, until July 6, to submit petitions.

The current speed of tribunals may delay decisions on several petitions as 996 adjournments of more than seven days have been recorded, whereas election laws and the ECP directives call upon tribunals to hear petitions on a day-to-day basis and to not allow an adjournment for more than seven days.

The ECP received 406 petitions of which 16 were dismissed during the scrutiny and Fafen study data suggests the ECP had referred 373 petitions to tribunals. The Lahore Tribunal received 49 (13 percent of the total) petitions; Peshawar Tribunal received 40, Faisalabad 39 and Karachi 26 petitions.

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