Ten cases were decided by the election tribunals during the month of September 2014 – bringing the total number of decided cases to 342 out of 411 (316 out of 385 by the tribunals and 26 by the ECP itself). As many as 69 petitions are still awaiting decisions by the tribunals.
Of the 342 cases, 153 (127 by the tribunals and 26 by the ECP itself) have been dismissed on grounds of technical deficiencies, implying that the merits of the petitions were not adjudicated on. Thirty-four petitions have been accepted; 22 dismissed due to non-prosecution; 29 dismissed as withdrawn and 74 dismissed after complete trial. The reasons for dismissal of 30 petitions are not known to FAFEN due to non-availability of their copies of orders despite continuous efforts to obtain them.
With regards to the 34 petitions accepted, nine were filed by independent candidates, eight by PPPP members and five by PML-N candidates. None of the petitions filed by PTI have been accepted so far.
On the other hand, 14 accepted petitions are against the ruling PML-N. Ten petitions cite independent candidates as respondents, while three nominate returned candidates of PTI.
Given the backlog, the ECP seems to have failed to ensure compliance with the mandatory legal provision of disposing of election petitions within 120 days of receipt by the tribunals.
Section 67(1)A of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976 says that “where a petition is not decided within four months, further adjournment sought by any party shall be given only on payment of special cost of Rs10,000 per adjournment and adjournment shall not be given for more than three days.”
Even though all the pending cases have crossed the limit of 120 days, no tribunal has complied with the mandatory provision of imposing the fine to the responsible party. It is important to mention that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has already emphasized that the tribunals should follow the above-mentioned provision strictly. Moreover, FAFEN has recorded 2.562 adjournments of over seven days in the tribunals, in violation of election laws and ECP’s directions which urge the tribunals to hear the petitions on a day-to-day basis and do not allow an adjournment of more than seven days.
Moreover, there is no provision in the law which deals with writ petitions against interim orders of election tribunals or the timeframe for their disposal, if filed. As a result, stay orders passed by high courts against writ petitions have lingered on for several months, delaying the disposal of petitions within the legally-stipulated deadline. As of September 30, 2014, 14 petitions were pending due to restraint orders issued by high courts, whereas four were awaiting verification reports from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) constituted 14 tribunals across the country to redress election-related complaints following the 2013 General Elections. The election results were officially notified on May 22, 2013 following which the candidates had until July 6, 2013 to submit their petitions.
The ECP received a total of 409 petitions, out of which 25 were dismissed by the commission itself during scrutiny. The ECP referred 384 petitions to the tribunals – one petition was sent back by the Rawalpindi tribunal and dismissed by ECP itself due to non-prosecution, bringing the number of cases dismissed by the ECP to 26. Another petition was filed directly with the tribunal in Lahore, bypassing the legal mechanism which resulted in its dismissal at the initial stage. Furthermore, one petition was filed with the ECP in June 2014 and dismissed by the Lahore tribunal in the same month, bringing the total number of petitions to 411.
Most of the petitions were moved by contesting candidates, while three petitions were filed by voters. Independent candidates filed a total of 99 petitions, followed by PML-N members who filed 66 petitions – 12 against PTI and 14 against PPPP. Of the 12 petitions against PTI, only one has been accepted so far. Nine petitions against PTI have been dismissed, while two are still awaiting decisions. Meanwhile, none of the petitions filed by PML-N against PPPP have been accepted so far.
PTI filed a total of 58 petitions – 43 against winning candidates of the ruling PML-N. Of these 43 petitions, 20 were filed to resolve disputes of National Assembly seats while the rest were related to provincial assemblies. Only one petition was filed by PTI against PPPP to resolve a dispute over a National Assembly seat in Sindh. So far, none of the petitions filed by PTI against either party have been accepted. Twenty-eight petitions (27 against PML-N and one against PPPP) have been dismissed while 16 are awaiting decisions.
In addition, PPPP members filed 50 petitions that included 19 against PML-N and only one against PTI. The only petition against PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was dismissed by the tribunal. Of the 19 petitions against PML-N, only three have been accepted; 13 have been dismissed while another three are pending with the respective tribunals.
Meanwhile, PML-N – the party with the highest number of seats in the National Assembly – also has the highest number of petitions citing the party as the respondent. Over one-third (138 or 36%) of the 385 petitions were filed against the party’s winning candidates. Independent candidates were nominated in 78 petitions, while PPPP and PTI had 50 and 30 cases filed against their candidates respectively.
The petitions are moved on single or multiple grounds and seek single or multiple reliefs. A majority of the petitions challenged the nomination or qualification of returned candidates with the additional ground of use of corrupt practices to sway the elections. There were 38 petitions challenging the nomination process and another 91 challenging the qualification of returned candidates. More than half (212 or 55%) of the petitions, among other grounds, made allegations of corrupt practices employed by returned candidates, while almost three-fourth (277 or 72%) of the petitions accused other personnel, including election officials, of malpractice.
Petitioners in 248 cases sought declaration to the effect that the election of the winning candidate be declared void and the petitioner be declared returned candidate instead. Among other reliefs, 122 petitions sought disqualification of the returned candidates and re-polling in the constituency. Another 89 petitions sought recounting of ballots for the entire or parts of the constituencies, 43 demanded re-examination of excluded ballots while 57 sought re-polling at certain polling stations besides 70 petitions seeking other reliefs.
 FAFEN had earlier reported that a total of 410 petitions were filed following the 2013 General Elections. Recently, however, FAFEN has discovered that another petition was filed with the ECP in June 2014 and dismissed by the tribunal in the same month, bringing the total number of filed petitions to 411. The details of the petition are given in the next section of this report.
To download complete report, click here