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Wednesday Aug 08 2018

SC suspends LHC order for recount in NA-131, Lahore


ISLAMABAD: Suspending the Lahore High Court's (LHC) order to re-tabulate results of NA-131 constituency, the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday accepted PTI chief Imran Khan's petition against the ruling for hearing. 

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Saad Rafique had petitioned for a recount in the closely contested NA-131 Lahore-9 constituency, from where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan had emerged victorious. He had alleged that the presiding officer deliberately rejected hundreds of votes.

As the hearing went under way today, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said that NA-131's result had already been declared.

Rafique's legal counsel contended that a recount request is valid if the victory margin is less than five per cent.

"Notice of political speeches should be taken on appropriate forum," the top judge observed.

However, the apex court suspended LHC's ruling for re-tabulation and accepted Imran's plea for hearing.

'Deprived of my basic right of recount'

Rafique took to twitter today to condemn the decision to halt the recount. "Halting the recount has cast doubts on the entire process," he wrote.

The PML-N leader said Imran's victory had been earlier pronounced by a lead of 680 votes. He further stated that the recount of rejected votes and five polling stations reduced 117 votes from Imran's tally.

"The Election Act 2017 has been completely disregarded. I have been deprived of my basic right of recount, which is allowed by the new legislation," he wrote.   

The case

Bagging a total of 84,313 votes in the constituency, Imran had defeated Rafique by 680 ballots. 

The PML-N leader had then requested the constituency's returning officer (RO) to conduct a recount of the rejected votes. Following the re-tabulation, Imran's margin of victory had reduced to 608 votes. 

Later, Rafique had petitioned to re-tabulate results of the entire constituency which was rejected by the returning officer. The PML-N leader had then challenged the decision in the Lahore High Court.   

On August 4, the LHC heard Rafique's petition and ordered a recount in the constituency. The high court had also ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to withhold Imran's victory notification for NA-131. 

Yesterday, the electoral body had notified all successful candidates but withheld those challenged in courts, including Imran's notification for the said constituency. The PTI legal counsel Babar Awan then contacted the apex court in this regard.