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IHC seeks reply in plea making PCATPโ€™s election result in question

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After preliminary hearing of a plea seeking court directives to set aside election results of Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP), the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued notices to respondents in the matter.

A single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court comprising Justice Babar Sattar issued a detailed order in the matter in response to plea filed by Advocates Umer Ijaz Gilani and Jehanzeb Durrani on behalf of Arch. Jehangir Khan Sherpao, Arch. Azhar M. Sualehi, Arch. Farmanullah Khan and Arch. Husnain Raza Khan.

Copy of the order available with TLTP denoting, โ€œLet notices be issued to the respondents for May 09, 2023, who will file report and para-wise comments within a period of ten daysโ€,.

The petitioners alleged that incumbent Chairman of PCATP Arif Changezi stole the elections. Substantiating their allegations the petitioners submitted that Changezi has declared himself as a victor in hastily manner, adding even though the credibility of elections was shattered because of hackersโ€™ attack on the online voting system.

During the proceedings, a report of an IT company was submitted before the court as the company was entrusted with carrying out online elections. It has been disclosed in the report that the IT company plainly admitted: โ€œwe witnessed an attack on our voting system at around 02:00am on 7th March, 2023. As a result of this attack, our voting result was manipulatedโ€ฆ we cannot certify the resultโ€.

Counsel for the Petitioners informed the Court that after receiving this report, two members of the Election Committee patently rejected the election results. The Committeeโ€™s Convenor, also did not fully endorse the results and wrote that โ€œreport of Conusltant IT be attached and shared with contestants and uploaded on the websiteโ€. Only 2 out of 5 members endorse the result.

Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that if such an Election Committee report were placed before a fair and unbiased Chairman, he would have called for re-polling and an FIA investigation into the hacking. The incumbent Chairman did neither; instead, he proceeded to issue a notification declaring himself the victor of the elections.

The petitioners have also asserted that the impugned victory notification fails to meet the pre-requisites laid down in the said provision. Bye-law 43 envisages a step-by-step process of scrutiny of votes, resolution of objections and certifications of results. Nothing of the sort happened.

After hearing preliminary arguments of counsel for the petitioners, Justice Babar Sattar admitted the petitioner for regular hearing and issued notices to respondents which include Election Committee, Registrarย  PCATP, Secretary Housing and Works, the IT Company, FIA and the persons declared as winners of the flawed elections. Comments are to be filed within ten days.

In his preliminary order, Justice Babar Sattar has recorded the petitionerโ€™s contentions in detail. He has noted that Counsel for the Petitioners stated: โ€œthat the notification is a consequence of the election, which does not reflect the vote of the members as many of the members could not vote due to the hacking of the system. He further states that the act of directing that the notification be issued despite the divided opinion of the Election Committee is malafide as the Chairman of respondent No.1 was conflicted in the matter given that he was himself contested the election and according to the results as declared had been elected as Chairman once again. He states that fairness demanded that an investigation be sought into the hacking by the Federal Investigation Agency alongwith ordering a re-poll to ensure that the election was carried in a transparent manner and produced result that had sanctityโ€ฆโ€

Courtesy of TLTP News: https://www.tltpnews.com/ihc-seeks-reply-in-plea-making-pcatps-election-result-in-question/

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