ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday moved an intra-court appeal (ICA) before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against a single bench verdict wherein it had nullified an ECP order and restored PML-N candidate Sumaera Malik as Chairman District Council Khushab.

The ECP filed the ICA through Secretary ECP and nominated Sumaera Malik, Malik Masood Nazir Awan, Malik Ameer Haider Sangha, Haji Muhammad Ameer Kalasi, Malik Safdar Hayat Awan, Rehmat Khatoon, district returning officer and presiding officer as respondents.

On July 7, IHC judge Aamer Farooq had set aside ECP’s order of December 28, 2016, through which the ECP had nullified the election of Chairman and Vice Chairman District Council Khushab after PML-N’s Sumaera Malik and Malik Masood Nazeer Awan were declared successful candidates.

In its ICA, the ECP stated that it was an autonomous constitutional and quasi-judicial body and its functions include holding elections to the Parliament, provincial assemblies and also local government.

It said that the ECP was duty-bound to organize and conduct the elections and to make arrangements to ensure fair and transparent elections.

It adopted that the ECP enjoys constitutional powers and such powers can neither be controlled or diminished through sub-constitutional legislation and the local government elections in the said district held on December 12, 2016, where Sumaera Malik and Malik Masood Nazir Awan were declared successful by the returning officer.

However, the ICA said that the ECP did not notify them as returned candidates as complainants had raised serious allegations of violation of the secrecy of ballots. Further, the ECP has the power to check corrupt and illegal practice and review any order of presiding officer or returning officer.

Opposing candidates to Sumaea Malik; Malik Ameer Haider Sangha and Haji Muhammad Ameer Kalasi in their complaints to the ECP had challenged elections results alleging that the secrecy of the ballot was disregarded and the voters cast their votes after showing these to the returned candidates.

In her petition, Sumaera had challenged the ECP’S orders of December 28, 2016, wherein it had nullified the election of Chairman and Vice Chairman of District Council Khushab.

It was December 28, 2016, when the ECP with a majority of 3-1 had ordered for re-elections that Sumaira Malik challenged before the IHC.

Chairman ECP Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, members Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and Justice (retd) Shakeel Ahmed Baloch had ordered for re-elections in Khushab while ECP member from Punjab Justice (retd) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi dissented the majority decision. In her petition, Sumaira Malik adopted that once the elections results were declared and consolidated, the ECP had no role except to issue notification of the returned candidates. Any matter regarding irregularities in the election process could have been disputed before the election tribunal instead of the ECP.

She contended in her petition that the ECP had no jurisdiction to issue such an order.