ISLAMABAD - A Division Bench (DB) of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday disposed of a petition seeking court’s directions to declare the general elections 2013 and bye-elections as null and void.

The DB comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Justice Athar Minallah conducted the hearing of a petition filed by Barrister M. Dawood Ghaznavi, seeking court’s directions to declare general elections 2013 and later by-polls as null and void while pleading before the court that people’s right to vote had been stolen through rigging in the elections.

However, the court disposed of the petition with remarks that the petition is not admissible as a petition of similar nature was already pending before the Supreme Court which was filed by Justice (Retd) Shahid Mehmood Siddiqui. The court directed the petitioner that if he wanted, he may become a party in the petition pending before the court.

The petitioner moved the court in person and nominated government of Pakistan through secretary Parliamentary Affairs, Election Commission of Pakistan through secretary, Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research through secretary, and National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) through secretary as respondents.

 He stated before the court that the petitioner contested the bye-election held in August 22, 2013 from provincial constituency of Sialkot PP 123 but his fundamental rights as Pakistani citizen, electoral contestant and voter, under Art 9, 17, 25, 218 have been infringed due to Election Commission of Pakistan ECP, not making such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly, and in accordance with law.

 The petitioner argued that under Article 218 of the constitution of Pakistan, it was the duty of the ECP to guard the petitioner fundamental rights under article 9,17,25 of the constitution of Pakistan, and had made such arrangements to ensure that the elections were conducted honestly.

Ghaznavi contended that before the general elections, the ECP has claimed that it has adopted foolproof measures to stop rigging and it would be able to audit every single vote in case of any controversy. “Therefore to ensure fairness in elections and create a deterrent against voting more than once, it was decided between the ECP and NADRA to use top quality magnetised iron particles ink to get every vote fingerprint thumb impression verified through biometric Database of NADRA, in case vote audit is required after the polls, to resolve the issue of rigging,” he added. “Since the counterfoil of the ballot paper carries CNIC and thump impression of every voter, NADRA should be able to verify that it was of the same persons. It was also the first time that the thumb impression was applied on the voter list as well,” he added.

He continued that for the first time in Pakistan on May 11, 2013, the ink was procured at a price costing Rs. 100 million to public exchequer much higher than that of common ink, readily available in the market.

“The ECP claimed the magnetic ink would enable verification of each ballot cast, as thumb impressions would be matched against NADRA’s database. The magnetic ink contains iron particles which are attracted to skin ridges in the thumb, thereby increasing the readability of impressions,” maintained the petitioner.

He further argued that the use of ink became a key issue after the polls as it was unable to help verification of votes. Post-election tribunals sent cases from over three dozen constituencies to NADRA to verify thumb impressions of votes. For most of the constituencies, NADRA reported that 75 per cent thumbs were not readable.

Therefore, he prayed that this constitutional petition be accepted and facts laid down in it may be graciously taken into consideration and declare that the result of the 2013 general elections and bye-elections should be declared “void” without jurisdiction and without any legal affect. The petitioner further requested that appropriate authorities be directed to initiate criminal as well as departmental action against the members of the ECP and those people who had been involved in ordering or purchasing the ink from PCSIR.