Tuesday Mar 16 2021
Web Desk

Code of conduct was breached during Daska by-polls, ECP tells Supreme Court

Web Desk
Representational image of people voting during elections.
  • ECP says the petition challenging the re-polling in Sialkot’s NA-75 should be dismissed.
  • It says that many rules were violated during the February 19 by-election.
  • The electoral body submits its reply in the petition filed by PTI candidate Ali Asjad Malhi.

ISLAMABAD: The petition challenging the re-polling in Sialkot’s NA-75 should be dismissed as many rules were violated during the February 19 by-election, said the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP).

According to a news report published in The News on Tuesday, the electoral body submitted its reply in a petition filed by PTI candidate Ali Asjad Malhi in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Despite the issuance of the code of conduct on December 21, 2020, the commission said that the rules weren’t followed.

Read more: ECP declares NA-75 polling void, orders fresh elections in entire constituency

It said that it had ordered “a prohibition on the commencement and carrying on of the development work at the behest of the political offices and the government” but the work continued.

“Various violations of the code of conduct by public functionaries, government officials, leaders of the political parties, the security officials, administration and law enforcement agencies also surfaced,” the ECP said.

The commission lamented that the civil administration failed to control the law and order which ultimately led to serious violence on the day of the poll in almost the whole constituency.

“The interference and the intermittent interruption in the polling process also supported the contentions that it resulted from the law and order situation in the constituency,” it added.

Ban on postings violated

The ECP said that a ban was also imposed on all postings and transfers in the constituency before the by-election.

It said on January 1, Ramzan Kamboh, Daska DSP, was granted medical leave for four weeks and the charge was given to Sambrial DSP Zulfiqar Virk in violation of clear orders of the ECP.

It filed a complaint and issued notices to Virk but they received no response. On February 2, the additional charge was withdrawn from Virk and Pasrur DSP Mazhar Ahmed Gondal took over.

“In order to defeat the order of the Election Commission and the transparency of the electoral process in the constituency, Virk was once again assigned the duty of Daska’s central circle in-charge under the alias Zulfiqar Ali for supervising the law and order situation,” the ECP claimed.

‘Selective officials appointed’

The electoral body said the government appointed “selective officers/officials” of law enforcing agencies and violated the election rules.

It claimed that “security officials, political leaders from the contesting parties, public officials”, and the law enforcement agencies violated the rules and failed to ensure a “conducive environment for fair and transparent elections”.

The ECP had ordered the re-polling on March 18 but it has been rescheduled to April 10.

The commission said that its duty is to “organise and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law and that corrupt practices are guarded against”.

NA-75 polling conundrum

The voting was held on February 19 from 8:00am to 5:00pm at polling stations across the constituency.

Polling at some stations in Daska was halted after two people were killed and seven injured in a firing incident. The next day, the results were withheld after the results of 20 polling stations were delayed.

On March 5, PTI challenged the Election Commission’s decision to hold re-polling for Sialkot’s NA-75 by-elections. The petition was submitted by Ali Asjad, who contested the NA-75 by-polls on PTI’s ticket.

Read more: PTI to appeal ECP's order for fresh NA-75 by-polls in Supreme Court

Ali Asjad said in his reply that it was unfair to declare the administration and law enforcers responsible for problems at polling stations. He said the ECP announced its verdict without inquiry.

The PML-N’s Syed Nosheen Iftikhar, who was contesting the election, said in her reply that the court must dismiss the application of her rival candidate with a fine.

She said it was a matter of grave concern that 20 presiding officers went missing in the constituency. She claimed that people were stopped from voting in the constituency.