LAHORE - After completion of cross-examination on the commission’s report in NA-122, the election tribunal on Saturday asked the counsel for National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to produce eyewitnesses and supporting evidences against the alleged rigging in the constituency on next hearing.

As the proceedings commenced, Ghulam Hussain Awan, who heads the commission, recorded his statement before the tribunal, confirming that he found many irregularities in the record of NA-122. Awan told the judge that the polling staff did not perform their job efficiently and committed many irregularities.

He further stated he found many polling bags with broken seals and ballot papers of different colours during the inspection. Awan said now the decision was up to the election tribunal.

The single-judge election tribunal, comprising Kazim Ali Malik, was hearing the case of the alleged rigging in NA-122 on a petition filed by PTI Chief Imran Khan, challenging victory of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.

Awan stated that the number of valid, invalid and cancelled votes mentioned in the inspection report was finalised with the consent of the representatives of both PTI and PML-N.

The counsels for both the parties carried out cross-examination on the report submitted by the commission. Khawaja Saeed-uz-Zafar, the counsel for Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, asked Awan whether polling staff committed mistakes or the parties were involved in irregularities, he replied the irregularities found in the record were the result of serious negligence on the part of the election staff.

When asked if the representatives of both the parties were present there when he wrote the report, he responded he wrote the report in his office. However, he said, representatives for the two parties were present at Nadir Hall when the polling bags were opened and recounting was made.

Advocate Anees Hashmi, the counsel for Imran Khan, asked the commission’s head why he did not mention that two kinds of ballot papers were found from the record and why he did not explain the discrepancies found by him as forms 14 and 15 were missing.

The judge remarked he would inspect the record himself if he found irregularities. He directed the counsel for the respondent to produce eyewitnesses on the next hearing. The tribunal will resume hearing on January 31.

PTI Chief Imran Khan had already recorded his statement by appearing personally before the tribunal last year.

Meanwhile, Ghulam Hussain Awan who was appointed head of the commission authorised to check the record of votes in NA-122, Lahore, said he had not found any bogus vote during the scrutiny of ballots. He, however, added there have been observed many irregularities.

He was talking to media persons after recording his statement before the election tribunal judge, Justice Kazim Ali Malik. He said neither any rigging has been found, nor has he seen any fake vote. Awan said now it was up to the election commission to give its decision on the irregularities. He added if these irregularities were declared by the election commission illegal, the election result in this constituency can be affected.

Earlier, while recording his statement, Ghulam Hussain Awan told the tribunal that he has mentioned in the report all the facts he found during the perusal of the record of votes.

The election tribunal deferred proceedings on separate applications of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and held that these would be taken up after recording statements of the witnesses of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.

In his application, Imran Khan has prayed to the tribunal to pay due consideration to the ballot papers of two colours recovered from the bags in which votes had been kept.

It is not out of place to mention here that the election tribunal had ordered opening of ballot bags on December 4, 2014, on the petition of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

On November 29, 2014, after recording his statement before the tribunal, Imran Khan had said that there are all the proofs of the election rigging in the bags carrying votes. “On the opening of these bags, everyone will come to know the extent to which rigging was committed in the 2013 general elections,” he had said.

PTI BINS GOVT’S CLAIM

Monitoring Desk adds: PTI Information Secretary Shireen Mazari on Saturday rejected the government’s claims regarding the enquiry commission’s report into alleged irregularities in NA-122 constituency in Lahore.

“During Saturday’s hearing, the commission’s judge said that his mandate is only to see what irregularities were committed in the polls and now it is up to the election tribunal judge to give a verdict on rigging in the light of the irregularities that have been put on the record,” Mazari said in a statement. “For the government to claim that no rigging has been found is a blatant lie,” she added in the statement.

Mazari said that the major irregularities found by commission included absence of Form XIV and XV in several polling bags. She said that forms XV not containing the serial numbers would lead to an annulment of the relevant polling stations’ results.

“The commission also found different coloured ballot papers during the probe. The commission judge referred to ‘minor discrepancies’ which, when asked to clarify, he defined as ‘where there were at least 10 votes at issue is a minor discrepancy.’ The commission found these “minor discrepancies” in 280 polling stations, which adds up to 2,800 votes,” Mazari said.

The PTI leader said the commission had substantiated PTI’s claims on the types of rigging that had taken place. “The NA-122 commission findings also are in line with the rigging highlighted by Aitzaz Ahsan in his white paper on NA 124,” she said.