Election tribunal orders re-election in NA-154, deseats PML-N lawmaker

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Politics on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

MULTAN: The election tribunal on Wednesday announced its verdict in favour of Jahangir Tareen over a petition filed by the former secretary general of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) against alleged rigging in NA-154 (Lodhran) in 2013 election.

The tribunal deseated Pakistan Muslim League—Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Muhammad Siddique Khan Baloch and ordered re-election in the constituency.

The election tribunal on Aug 20 had reserved its verdict after the lawyers of both the parties completed their arguments.

The constituency (NA-154) is among the four where PTI Chairman Imran Khan has been demanding a recount and verification of the thumb impressions.

An independent candidate, Muhammad Siddique Khan Baloch who later joined PML-N, was declared successful by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in this constituency in 2013.

The result was challenged by Jehangir Tareen through an election petition filed under Section 52 of the Act, claiming that Mr Baloch possessed fake secondary education, intermediate and undergraduate degrees and he committed illegal practices on polling day.

The tribunal on May 21, 2014, had directed National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to carry out thumb verification on the request of Mr Tareen but Mr Baloch got a stay order from the Lahore High Court on May 26.

Mr Tareen moved the Supreme Court through his counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada against the LHC decision.

The apex court on June 6, 2014, vacated the LHC stay order and directed the tribunal to hold proceedings on a daily basis for the verification of thumb impressions.

In its report submitted to the tribunal, the Nadra revealed that it failed to authenticate the thumb impressions of 179 voters in NA-154.

According to the report, 218,056 votes cast at 290 polling stations were received by Nadra from the election tribunal for verification, out of which 20,601 were polled with invalid CNICs or without identity cards.

Similarly, 121 voters were found to be out of constituency, while there were 728 duplicate votes and 587 were without thumb impressions, the report said.

It said 73,707 votes had authenticated fingerprints while thumb impressions on 179 votes could not be verified.

Nadra could not decipher 122,133 votes that were having fingerprints of bad quality due to unavailability of proposed (magnetic) ink, besides other possibilities. However, CNIC numbers mentioned on counterfoils of these votes having bad thumb impressions were valid.

According to the ECP, Siddique Baloch had bagged 86,177 votes against Mr Tareen who stood second with 75,955 votes. There were 370,150 registered votes, out of which 235,938 were polled. As many as 9,904 votes were rejected and the voting percentage was 67.4.

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