ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Thursday noted the irregularities by polling staff took place almost in all constituencies during the general elections 2013.

The Chief Justice heading a three-judge bench said: “If they go by the inherent shortcoming of the Election Commission of Pakistan then election of not a single constituency would stand.” “When there is system to keep the election record in safe custody then what it is the sanctity of a vote.”

The bench was hearing an appeal of Khawaja Saad Rafique, who defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate in NA-125. Saad was de-seated by Election Tribunal on the application of PTI candidate. The Supreme Court, however, granted stay against the tribunal’s verdict.

The chief justice said, according to the Representation of People Act 1976, after the election are over then the ECP should take all the election material in its possession, but the ECP does not have a place to keep it and, therefore, it kept in district treasuries, which is not well maintained.

Justice Jamali questioned if the election record of any constituency goes missing or burnt then whether the result of that constituency would be set aside.

During the proceedings, Justice Qazi Faez Isa floated an idea of recounting of votes. The judge asked the PTI counsel that if they accept their application, which it filed before the Returning Officer but that was rejected, then would that be acceptable to all the parties.

The counsels of all the parties agreed. However, Hamid Khan later instructed his counsel ‘don’t give consent to it’. The court upon that continued hearing the arguments of the lawyers on the merit of the case.

Khawaja Haris, representing the railways minister, said even if the number of invalid votes i.e. 4170 is excluded from Kh Saad’s total votes even then the result would not be changed, as the difference between Kh Saad and PTI leader is 38,921 votes.

The railways minister secured 123,416 while Hamid Khan obtained 84,494 in the general elections 2013.

Kh Saad’s lawyer said the Election Tribunal did not examine the material effect of the irregularities on the part of the polling staff. He said the tribunal had de-seated the returned candidate not on the ground of illegal and corrupt practice, but the negligence and carelessness of the polling staff.

Ahmed Awais, who appeared on behalf of the PTI leader, said there so many irregularities in the elections, adding the RO violated section 9 of ROPA 1976, which says the RO would prepare a list of presiding officers, assistant presiding officer and other polling staff 15 days before the polling date.

He also said the Forms 14 of 24 polling stations are missing and asked in the absence of Form 14 of 24 polling stations how the Returning Officer could consolidate the result of the constituency.

Justice Qazi inquired from the PTI counsel, did they raise these objections during the election process. The chief justice said: “We should keep in mind the condition in which the presiding officers work on the polling day.” The case is adjourned for today.