38 petitions yet to be decided by Election Tribunals, decides 373 cases out of total 411

ISLAMABAD, April 22 (INP): The election tribunals constituted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided six cases in March 2015 – bringing the total number of decided cases to 373 out of 411. Meanwhile, 38 petitions are still awaiting decisions.

Of the 373 cases, 154 have been dismissed on grounds of technical deficiencies – implying that the merits of the petitions were not adjudicated on. Forty-five petitions have been accepted; 25 dismissed due to non-prosecution; 30 dismissed as withdrawn and 117 dismissed after complete trial. The reasons for dismissal of two petitions are not known to FAFEN due to non-availability of their copies of orders.

With regards to the 45 petitions accepted, 10 were filed by independent candidates and nine each by PPPP and PML-N. In addition, two petitions filed by PTI have been accepted so far.

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.

The ECP constituted 14 tribunals across the country to redress election-related complaints following the 2013 General Elections. The three tribunals in Balochistan, along with the tribunal in Dera Ismail Khan, have ceased functioning after deciding all their cases. Similarly, the tribunals in Sukkur and Karachi have also ceased operations after their pending cases were transferred to the Hyderabad tribunal.

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 411 petitions, out of which 26 were dismissed by the commission itself while the remaining 385 were referred to the tribunals. The tribunals have so far decided 347 petitions, while another 38 are yet to be decided.

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.

PTI filed a total of 58 petitions – 43 against winning candidates of the ruling PML-N and only one against PPPP. In addition, PPPP members filed 50 petitions – 19 against PML-N and only one against PTI.