ISLAMABAD - Entertaining Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's request for votes’ recounting in PP-150, Lahore-14, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has ordered the returning officer concerned to have the recounting done in three days.

The prescribed deadline (on the vote recounting) would be effective from today (Thursday.)

In exercise of its powers in the light of Section 103, the ECP’s full bench, comprising Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jillani and all the four members, on Wednesday overruled the decision of the returning officer on PP-150, directing him to have the recounting done in all the 147 polling stations of the said constituency and submit its result to the ECP by Saturday evening. All the 11 contestants from the provincial constituency were present on the occasion.

According to details, the RO for PP-150, Additional District and Sessions Judge Lahore Javed Iqbal Warraich had turned down the request of PTI’s candidate Mehr Wajid Azam for recount in the said constituency. The request was made citing several alleged poll-rigging instances in PP-150 during the by-polls held last Thursday (August 22). Having secured 18,494 votes, Azim had lost to Mian Marghoob Ahmed of PML-N by a visibly thin margin of only 376 votes. Marghoob had secured 18,870 votes.

This prompted the PTI leaders and activists to protest and move the poll authority against the ROs decision. “This is a welcoming decision. The ECP has really upheld the Constitution’s supremacy by truly exercising its authority,” Mehr Wajid said while reacting to the decision on votes’ recounting. “Everything would come out in black and white,” he said.

Mian Marghoob said he and his party respected the ECP decision, claiming that votes’ recount would not change the poll result. “The truth will prevail and the truth is that we’ve won that will stand confirmed on Saturday, no matter how many times you recount the votes. But we respect the ECP decision. The people of Pakistan have reposed their confidence in PML-N, which will be reflected in the recounting,” he told this scribe.

Sections 103 (b) and (c) of the RoPA 1976 say the commission may: (b) review an order passed by an officer under this act or the rules, including rejection of a ballot paper; and (c) issue such instructions and exercise such powers and make such consequential orders as may in its opinion be necessary for ensuring that an election is conducted honestly, justly and fairly and in accordance with the provisions of this act and the rules.

Despite being authorised to order votes’ recounting in exercise of RoPA 1976 Section 39 (6), the RO’s decision against recounting took a former ECP boss by surprise as well. “It’s really surprising as to why the RO rejected the request for recounting by the PTI candidate who lost with such a narrow margin of 376 votes. These kinds of decisions really bring the RO’s style of functioning under suspicion,” former ECP Secretary Kanwar Dilshad said.

As per Section 39 (6) (a) and (b), the returning officer may recount the ballot papers: (a) upon the request of, or challenge in writing made by, a contesting candidate or his election agent, if the returning officer is satisfied that the request or the challenge is reasonable; or (b) if so directed by the commission, in which case the recount shall be held in such manner and at such place as may be directed by the commission.

The PP-150 Lahore X1V was vacated by PML-N’s Mehar Ishtiaq Ahmed who retained NA-121 Lahore-1V he had won in the general elections held on May 11 this year.

In the by-polls, the total number of votes polled for PP-150 was 37,937 of which 37,598 were declared valid and 375 rejected. The voters' turnout remained 19.5 percent. The total number of registered voters in the said constituency is 194,675 comprising 110,614 male and 84,061 female votes.