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PTI seeks ECP to bar 16 defectors from contesting Punjab by-polls

ECP de-seated 20 lawmakers for defecting in favour of Hamza Shehbaz in the election for the chief minister.

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PTI on Wednesday sought the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to bar 16 of its 20 de-seated defectors from contesting the upcoming by-polls in Punjab scheduled for July 17.

All these 20 former PTI lawmakers from the Punjab Assembly are contesting the by-polls from their respective constituencies on PML-N tickets. ECP de-seated them for defecting in favour of Hamza Shehbaz in the election for the chief minister.

“The party tickets, by PML-N, have been given to these defectors as a reward for their participation in a conspiracy which succeeded due to their unholy, immoral, and unlawful defection,” Advocate Faisal Fareed stated in a petition. After ECP’s verdict, these former lawmakers were “judicially stigmatised and cannot contest the elections.”

It further said that under Article 5 of the Constitution, the respondents were to ensure that their personal and official conduct met the best standards of democratic norms.

Read more: Police raids PTI candidate’s office in Lahore

“They contumaciously violated the same and caused the downfall of their own government in Punjab. They, without any scruples, violated their party oath, as well as the oath taken under Article 65, read with Article 127 along with their oath taken as contained in the Third Schedule to the Constitution,” it read.

“As per… Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, the respondents are not eligible to contest or to be elected as a member of the Punjab assembly in the scheduled elections to be held on July 17. They are most certainly disqualified for the same.”

The Commission had to ensure that those who did not meet the criteria of Articles 62 and 63 were not allowed to contest elections, and their disqualification was enforced. The petition sought the ECP to debar the respondents from taking part in the upcoming by-polls and as instruct all concerned not to notify the poll results till a decision on the petition.

Meanwhile, a former federal minister and PTI Additional Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan filed yet another petition with the ECP alleging pre-poll rigging in the Punjab by-polls and sought the commission take remedial measures.

“…the way things are in Punjab, no free, fair, transparent, or impartial elections can be held. Even after the election date was announced as 17-07-22, developmental work has been announced in various constituencies, which is a clear violation of Section 181 of the Elections Act of 2017,” he said.

It alleged that officials, on the government’s instructions, were interfering in the upcoming elections. “A prime example is of the Rajanpur deputy commissioner (DC), who can be seen campaigning for PML-N candidates, which is a clear violation of both ethics and Section 187 of the Elections Act of 2017,” the petition further stated, while purported pictures of the DC’s activities were annexed with the plea.

Khan further alleged in his petition that the ruling party candidate, Raja Sagheer Ahmed, was offering bribes to voters in PP-07 to influence them, in violation of sections 167 and 168 of the Elections Act 2017 as well as constitutional provisions.

The PTI once again alleged that voters’ lists had been altered and reshuffled in violation of the elections law. For example, it cited the issuance of the final electoral roll in PP-140 Sheikhupura after the announcement of the election schedule. The number of voters in the constituency had increased from 2,239 on May 20, 2018, to 5,573 on May 20, 2022.

Read more: PML-N fails to copy PTI’s door-to-door campaign?

“This sudden increase is ambiguous and casts serious doubts on the transparency of upcoming by-elections,” it stated.

The petitioner asked the ECP to address all the related petitions and remedy the issues before the polls to guarantee free, fair, transparent, and impartial elections.

With input from Dawn