KARACHI - The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday restrained Election Commission of Pakistan from issuing victory notification of as many as three Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidates, who won elections from different constituencies of Karachi.

A division bench headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar conducted hearing on a plea filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shahbaz Sharif seeking recount of votes in NA-249. PTI Faisal Vawda won the election from the said constituency with a narrow margin of 718 votes.

It was a first ever election from PML top leadership who chosen Karachi for contesting election of 2018. Former Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif challenged the polling and pleaded to recount the votes.

According to the unofficial result, PTI candidate Vawda has been declared elected with 35,344 votes. Mr Sharif emerged as the runner-up as he bagged 34,626 votes.

Earlier, The returning officer (RO) had rejected Shahbaz Sharif‘s plea for recounting of votes on the ground of non-maintainability. The petitioner had termed an RO dismissal of recount appeal illegal.

In his initial arguments, Shahbaz Sharif’s counsel has submitted that the PTI candidate had won with the winning margin of only over 600 votes while over 3,000 votes were rejected during the counting.  He added that number of rejected votes in the constituency was greater than the winning margin.

He claimed that his client had received several complaints over the polls and his polling agents had been removed from the room during vote count while the presiding officer issued results on a plain paper and not forms 45 as per law.

In his petition, the PML-N leader has alleged that law enforcement agencies removed his banners and posters ahead of elections while turning a blind eye to violations committed by his rival over his election campaign. Sharif had pleaded the SHC to stay the ECP from issuing a notification on Vawda’s victory, secure records and order a recount.

The court after hearing arguments, has issued notices to the ECP and other respondents till August 10 and directed not to issue notification regarding Vawda’s victory till the further order.

Similarly, the SHC has also heard the identical petition filed by Pakistan Peoples’ Party candidate Abdul Hakeem Baloch, who challenged the victory of PTI candidate from NA-237 in District Malir.

In his initial argument, Mr Baloch lawyer has submitted that the announcement of the result in his constituency had been deliberately delayed in order to alter the election result to favour his rival candidate.

The counsel contended that in most parts of his constituency areas, especially in the rural areas, polling booths were established in such congested places that it slowed down the voting process throughout the polling day. PPP’s rival candidate, Captain (retd) Jameel of PTI, won the election in NA-237 after securing around 33,289 votes. Hakeem Baloch secured 31,907 votes, as per the results.

The court restrained ECP from issuing notification of the result from the said constituency and also issued the respondents to submit their reply in the next hearing to be held on August 10.

On the other side, the same bench has also contained the ECP from issuing official notification of another winning PTI candidate Malik Shehzad Awan, who won from PS-116 and, the bench also sought reply from ECP till Augus10.

PML (N) candidate Muhammad Suhaleen challenged the PTI candidate for contesting the election.

The applicant submitted that Malik Shehzad Awan has been proclaimed absconder by a local court in Karachi in 2014 in a fraud case. The applicant submitted that Mr Awan was booked issuing a bogus cheque of Rs 10 million.

He stated that a person having criminal background is not illegal to contest election and to hold any public office. The petitioner pleaded the court to disqualify him for holding public office.

In his arguments, the petitioner’s lawyer has claimed that Malik Shehzad Awan had contested election in 2013 in another fake name.  

The PTI candidate won the election after a close competition of only 255 votes. He has unofficially been declared elected with 9,966 votes. PTI candidate got 9,711 votes.