LHC refers NA-122 election matter to Election Commission

* CJ says up to election commission to decide whether a judicial or executive officer will examine the election record of the constituency

LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Monday referred the issue of inspection of election record in NA-122 to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), disposing off a petition filed by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq against ECP’s order on petition of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan for inspection of the record in the constituency.
The chief justice referred the matter to the ECP to decide on its own whether a returning officer, additional district and sessions judge should hold the examination or some officer from the executive should be given the task. The chief justice held that if the ECP declines to depute some officer from the Punjab government or the federal government, it should consult the judiciary before appointing any judicial officer for the purpose.
During the proceedings on Monday, Imran Khan’s counsel Ahmed Awais submitted that according to the relevant laws a returning officer is bound to the orders of the ECP till completion of one year after the announcements of the elections. 
The chief justice observed that on special request of the ECP, the judiciary had given its officers to it for conducting the elections, otherwise the judiciary has nothing to do with it. He held that the judicial officers are already over burdened with their judicial work and they do not have time to conduct the election matters. He observed that only in Punjab, 2,200,000 cases are taken up per year. He said we should trust the election commission in this regard.
The issue was brought before the court as Imran Khan, after losing the election in the said constituency, filed an application before the ECP for inspection of election record. The commission, while allowing his application on June 18, 2013, also allowed Imran Khan to submit another application for examination of documents before the returning officer concerned. Ayaz Sadiq, who won the May 11 election on PML-N ticket from the constituency against Imran Khan and was elected as speaker of the National Assembly later, had moved the petition in the LHC against this order of the ECP.
The petitioner’s counsel submitted only objection to the order of the ECP was on the public inspection of permissible election record expecting the returning officer of NA- 122 Lahore to allow and supervise the same. She submitted that the impugned order granted the relief to Imran Khan on the basis that the RO had the custody of the election record. She said that presently the RO did not have any election record because the record had already been forwarded to the ECP as required by the law.

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