Wednesday Mar 10 2021
Web Desk

ECP reschedules NA-75 Daska by-election to April 10

Web Desk
Representational image of a woman casting her vote. Photo:File
  • The ECP has decided to reschedule the NA-75 Daska by-polls on April 10.
  • The commission says decision was taken to ensure transparency in the by-polls and make administrative matters foolproof.
  • The Daska by-polls were originally held on Feb 19, but due to suspicions of tampering with the results, the ECP had rescheduled it for March 18.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to reschedule the NA-75 Daska by-election. According to the announcement made on Wednesday, the by-poll will now take place on April 10, 2021.

"The election date has been extended to bring transparency in the elections and make administrative matters foolproof," the ECP said.

According to a statement issued in this regard, the Punjab government had informed the commission that the officers appointed after the suspension and transfers of all district and divisional officers need more time to understand and fully control the administrative situation.

Earlier, the ECP had decided to conduct the by-poll on March 18, 2021. The by-poll was originally held on February 19 but had to be declared null and void after the results in 20 polling stations were suspected to be "tampered with."

Subsequently, the Commission issued an order for fresh polls to be conducted.

"Incidents of murders, firing and injuries, bad law and order situation in the subject constituency [created] harassment for voters and other circumstances leading to make the process of results doubtful/unascertainable,” an order issued by the ECP noted.

The staff of the 20 polling stations — where presiding officers went missing and were unreachable as was noted in the ECP statement following election day — will be reappointed for the April 10 by-poll.

According to the district education authority, the staff will be appointed from the department of education.

The authority added that a new presiding officer for polling station number 348 will also be appointed.

The remaining 340 polling stations will have the same staff that was appointed for election duty on February 19.

SC seeks ECP records on Daska by-election

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had sought the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) records on the Sialkot NA-75 Daska by-election held on February 19, 2021.

The record had been sought by a bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, which is hearing a petition filed by the PTI candidate who stood for election in the constituency.

The petitioner wants the ECP's decision to order re-election in the constituency be overturned.

During the hearing, Justice Bandial observed that the top court had ruled that elections should be free and fair.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah noted that the ECP has the authority to take action without receiving a formal application, but asked on what basis the ECP authorised re-election in the whole constituency.

Upon hearing the judge's remarks, PML-N candidate Nausheen Iftikhar told the court that 23 presiding officers were “kidnapped” during the election.

At this, the court also sought information regarding the area where the firing incident took place in the constituency during, which two persons were killed.

The court, while asking these questions, also directed the ECP to submit all records based on which the elections were declared illegal.

The court observed that it will review the PTI candidate’s plea seeking a stay order on the upcoming by-election — scheduled for March 18 — after it reviews all records submitted to the court and the detailed order issued by the ECP on March 8.

The court issued notices to PML-N candidate Nausheen Iftikhar and other parties in the case and adjourned the hearing till March 16.

Rescheduling of by-election challenged

Last week, the PTI candidate, Ali Asjad Malhi, had challenged the ECP's decision to hold re-polling for Sialkot's NA-75 seat in the Supreme Court.

Malhi had argued in his petition that the ECP did not properly review the available records, so the decision is contrary to the facts.

The petitioner said there was no justification for the order to hold re-election in NA-75 Daska.

Re-election meant that the people of the constituency will face a law and order situation again, he argued.

Asjad is additionally seeking that the election results of NA-75 Daska on February 19 to be released.

What happened on Feb 19

The by-election in NA-75 Daska was marred by chaos. Two people were killed during a violent clash between PTI and PML-N workers, while the ECP had taken notice of the disappearance of 20 presiding officers of the constituency late in the night.

Based on the events that transpired that day, the ECP said the election was null and void. It was later rescheduled for March 18.