ISLAMABAD - The disqualified candidate for Sindh Assembly's constituency in Tando Muhammad Khan, Waheeda Shah, has termed the Election Commission of Pakistan's decision to hold by-poll in the said constituency as 'unlawful' on account of a pending case on the matter.

The electoral body however asserts that it is mandated to take any such decision that remains in full accordance with the provisions of election laws and Constitution

The ECP on Friday had announced to hold by-poll in PS-53 on the coming April 26, the same constituency wherein Waheeda Shah had unofficially stood victorious but was later disqualified for two years for slapping the polling staff and allegedly interfering in official business. The Commission also declared the results of the said by-poll as null and void and ordered re-election. The by-poll was held on February 25 and ECP disqualified Shah on March 7 in a landmark decision having arrived by a majority vote of three-two. Shah has moved Sessions Court in Hyderabad against the ECP decision.

Talking to The Nation by phone on Saturday, Waheeda Shah termed the said ECP decision as "unlawful" citing the pending case before the Additional, District and Sessions Judge Hyderabad Shahid Pervaiz Memon. On the other hand, Sindh's Provincial Election Commission says the ECP's decision to disqualify Waheeda Shah was taken in accordance with law following due procedures and rules. The subsequent conduct of by-poll, the Commission insisted, stood in full compliance with law. In its official version recorded with the Nation, the PEC Sindh cited articles 224 and 225 of the Constitution that obligate the ECP to hold by election in any given parliamentary constituency that fell vacant on any given pretext within sixty days from its falling vacant. The PEC Sindh says, in case any parliamentary constituency got vacant following the disqualification of a parliamentarian or a returned candidate (whether unofficially), the status quo was maintained unless the court stayed against the disqualification. "Unless there is a legal lacunae or a procedural hitch, the courts do not turn down or grant stay against ECP decisions that are normally challenged in the superior judiciary. The ECP is mandated to take decisions it deems necessary for upholding transparency, discipline and impartiality in electoral process and a court ruling against the Commission's decision without any concrete justification amounts to interference in ECP affairs," officials concerned at PEC said.

However, this does not convince Waheeda Shah whom the disqualification decision has not gone well with. "The ECP disqualified me and the returning officer posed a fine of one thousand rupees. On Monday, the Additional, District and Sessions Judge suspended the imposition of fine. They (ECP) should have waited for the court's verdict. The matter is sub judice so the ECP cannot proceed without court's approval."

When told about the ECP stance over the issue regarding its mandate to conduct by-poll in any vacant parliamentary constituency, Shah said, "Yes I know but even then legal procedures should be followed." Shah did not elaborate as to what legal procedures were to be followed in such a situation. "There is also a pending case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan that hasn't been disposed off yet so the matter is sub judice you see," Waheeda Shah said referring to the suo moto notice taken by the SC on slapping incident.

Asked why she moved Sessions Court instead of moving the SC given that the Apex Court had already taken notice of the matter, the ruling party's leader in Sindh said, "I consulted my lawyer and my close associates on this issue and decided to move Sessions Court hoping that I may get some relief there. Supreme Court is the highest judicial platform. If it decided against me, every door would be closed for me."