Islamabad - A division bench of Islamabad High Court yesterday reserved its verdict in a petition of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf seeking directions to the Election Commission of Pakistan for en masse access to its server data.

The dual bench of IHC comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition. During the hearing, Farrukh Dall Advocate, the counsel for the petitioner Tasneem Noorani, appeared before the court and argued on the merits of the petition.

Talking to The Nation, Farrukh Dall said that the court reserved its judgement after hearing the arguments. “It is expected that the court will announce its verdict on Tuesday (today),” added the counsel.

In his application, the petitioner sought court’s directions to Election Commission of Pakistan for en masse access of PTI to the ECP’s 8300 server data.

The PTI stated in the petition that it needed ECP’s data access because the PTI is trying to formulate credible voter lists throughout the country for its intra-party elections. Chief Election Commissioner of PTI Tasneem Noorani had moved this petition and nominated ECP as respondent.

Noorani adopted before the IHC that PTI Election Commission has decided to register PTI members through their cell phones, on the basis of “one phone one vote”, by asking them to submit their names and CNIC numbers.

“This data will be received through the new telephone short code (9008) allotted to PTI as a political party by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). The main server will lock the name with a CNIC number of the member. In order to geographically place its members PTI needs to get its members particulars, including the census code, from the existing available service of ECP, through 8300,” added the counsel.

He contended that they are facing with the problem that getting data of each member one by one, from 8300 is very cumbersome and also time consuming, as SMS modems have speed limitation, as also the 8300 service.

Therefore, he stated that petitioner requested ECP to allow access to the 8300 service en masse, rather than individually, so that PTI could prepare credible voters list of its members but the ECP did not respond to its request.

He argued that under the Political Parties Order 2002, the PTI is bound to conduct its intra-party elections. The PTI has improved its electoral system in light of the experiments and experiences learned from previous intra-party elections. Previous experiments of registering member through filling of cards (paper membership cards) was unpleasant, as prospective candidates’ manipulated fake membership from data available through hard copies of electoral lists of the ECP, in order to gain advantage.

The counsel added that PTI Election Commission is trying to hold genuinely fair intra-party elections, which will set the bar for other political parties and bring in democracy and institution building in political parties of the country.

He continued that there is no prohibition in law for ECP for not allowing or permitting access of PTI server to ECP server for verification of data of voters. Therefore, the petitioner prayed to the court to direct ECP to allow PTI’s server access to the ECP server for verification of data.