ISLAMABAD -  Upholding election tribunal’s verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed petitions challenging victory of incumbent Defence Minister Khawaja Asif in general elections 2013 from NA-110 (Sialkot).

Asif had won NA-110 seat bagging 92,803 votes, while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s Usman Dar could manage only 71,525 votes in general elections.

Usman Dar had challenged Asif’s victory in an election tribunal but could not get a favourable decision so he approached the Supreme Court.

NA-110 is one of the four constituencies for which the PTI had sought vote audit and re-election through election petitions.

The other constituencies were NA-125 (Lahore), NA-122 (Lahore), and NA-154 (Lodhran).

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali on Thursday heard appeals of the PTI leader Usman Dar and Arshad, an independent candidate, against the verdict of the election tribunal.

“We have heard the arguments of the learned counsels for the appellants and the respondent at length and for the reasons to be recorded separately, both the appeals are dismissed,” the short order said.

Earlier, Farooq H Naek, representing Defence Minister, argued that the instant case was filed without solid evidence.

He said no separate application was filed to summon and cross-examine the returning officer of NA-110, against whom the PTI leader had levelled allegations that he rigged the election in connivance with the PML-N.

Naek contended that 10 affidavits were submitted before the tribunal by the witnesses and all were the same word-to-word. He said the petitioners failed to provide documentary proofs pertaining to pre-election rigging.

He submitted that as per four reports, submitted by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), and two reports, submitted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the electoral process was not affected.

The counsel said that after polls were over, the election material was duly deposited in the treasury. The chief justice observed that he too served as acting chief election commissioner and he came to know that there was no space available in the treasury of federal and provincial election commission offices for keeping the election material.

Justice Jamali said the winning candidate cannot be held responsible for missing election material. He said it’s a duty of Election Commission to secure electoral record.

Justice Ameer Hani Muslim, another member of the bench, observed that in KP Election Commission office, no space was available for keeping the election material.

Farooq H Naek contended that he was the member of parliamentary committee and expressed the hope that the said committee would soon be able to introduce election reforms

The chief justice, however, said that the committee had not come up with resolution of problems except holding regular meetings as yet.

The chief justice observed that people in power were taking benefits from the status quo and delaying of the census for the last 15 years was a good example in this connection.

Naek however said that they will collectively break this status quo as well. He claimed that his client had even won the election with 16,000 votes if votes on which the petitioners expressed their suspicion were excluded.

He prayed the apex court to dismiss the instant appeals as the petitioners failed to provide the court solid documentary evidence of rigging.

Babar Awan, counsel for Usman Dar, in his rebuttal, submitted that five bags of votes were found missing while many of the bags were found with broken seal. He said the election in NA-110 was rigged by the returning officer so that PML-N candidate could win the general election.

Justice Hani, however, asked Awan that he should have raised or crossed examined the witnesses before the election tribunal.