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NA-154: SC declares Siddique's election void, orders re-polling

NA-154: SC declares Siddique's election void, orders re-polling

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ordered re-polling in NA-154 constituency (Lodhran) while suspending the tribunal verdict of declaring Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Siddique Khan Baloch 'ineligible' to contest elections.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by senior judge Justice Saqib Nisar, while issuing the verdict on Siddique Khan Baloch ordered re-polling in the constituency and also nullified the election tribunal decision regarding Baloch's lifetime disqualification to contest elections.

Baloch's election in NA-154 result was challenged by Jehangir Tareen — who had lost to Baloch — through an election petition filed under Section 52 of the Act, claiming that Baloch possessed fake secondary education, intermediate and undergraduate degrees and he committed illegal practices on polling day.

The Multan election tribunal in August had annulled the results of 2013 general election in NA-154, disqualifying Mr Baloch for possessing fake academic credentials.

Siddique Khan Baloch had approached the Supreme Court against the decision of the election tribunal that declared his election on the constituency void and him 'ineligible' to contest elections due to his fake educational degree.

Jubilant at the decision, PTI's Jehangir Tareen said that Siddique Baloch's academic credentials and his fake degree do not concern him but he cannot accept the results of a rigged election.

"We will contest the polls and the decision of peoples' court will be clearer, people of Lodhran are happy over the verdict," said Tareen.

While PML-N's Siddique Baloch said that he will accept whatever decision his party will take in this regard, adding that he will not boycott the by-polls.

Meanwhile, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) spokesman said that a new schedule for by-polls in NA-154 will be announced as soon as the body receives the detailed SC verdict.

The tribunal’s detailed judgment says the National Database and Registration Authority on its direction had reported that it failed to authenticate thumb impressions of 179 voters in NA-154, Dawn newspaper reported.

According to the report, 218,056 votes polled at 290 stations were received by Nadra for verification, out of which 20,601 votes were cast with invalid Computerised National Identity Card numbers or without them.

Similarly, 121 voters were found to be out of constituency, while there were 728 duplicate votes and 587 votes were without thumb impressions, the report stated.

The Nadra report stated that there were 73,707 votes having authenticated fingerprints, while thumb impressions of only 179 votes could not be authenticated. Nadra, however, could not decipher 122,133 votes that had fingerprints of bad quality due to unavailability of proposed (magnetic) ink, besides other possibilities. However, the CNIC numbers mentioned on counterfoils of those votes were valid.

According to the ECP, Mr Baloch had bagged 86,177 votes against Mr Tareen’s 75,955 votes. There were 370,150 registered votes, of which 235,938 were polled. As many as 9,904 votes were rejected and the voting percentage was 67.4.

Related: SC suspends tribunal verdict to de-seat PML-N MNA, stays by-polls in NA-154

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