LAHORE - An election tribunal yesterday annulled the victory of national assembly speaker over alleged irregularities in the 2013 general elections.

Ayaz Sadiq, from PML-N, was elected to National Assembly after defeating PTI Chairman Imran Khan from NA 122 – one of four constituencies on which Khan had demanded probe to test his claims about electoral rigging.

However, Ayaz, who has already served about half of the constitutionally-mandated term of five years, will challenge the decision in the apex court –the only forum that can overturn the election tribunal’s re-election decision.

Provincial assembly seat PP-147, falling in the same constituency, will also witness fresh elections in the light of the tribunal’s order. In re-election, new candidates can also file nominations.

It is a serious setback to the ruling PML-N, especially so because the seats fall in the provincial metropolis, the strongholds of the Sharifs.

It will, however, serve as a morale booster to the PTI, the party fast emerging as the real opposition because of the inactive role being played by the PPP despite its having a numerical superiority over the cricketer-turned-politician’s party.

In the detailed judgment, it has been held that 23,000 ballot papers did not bear stamps and on another 6,123 ballots, the ID card numbers, mentioned were wrong.

The verdict said that 570 votes polled in the election were not registered in the constituency. It has also been stated that 377 ballot papers did not have thumb impressions. It also pointed out that a number of votes were cast more than once.

While arguing the case, PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s counsel Advocate Anees Hashmi relied on four points. The first point he relied on was that that the election of NA-122 was rigged and was unlawful. The second point was that a large number of votes cast in the constituency were invalid and fake. The third was that the record of the votes mentioned in Form-16 did not match with the inspection record and forth point was that returning officers did not perform their duties as they should have.

Barrister Asjad Saeed, the counsel of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, however, could not counter these allegations.

The petition, moved by Khan on August 27 last year, remained suspended for a year as the Lahore High Court granted a stay to NA speaker against the proceedings on November 4.

On November 20, 2014, the court recalled the stay order and allowed the tribunal to proceed with the case.

On December 8, the election tribunal accepted the petition of the PTI’s chairman regarding the constitution of a commission and appointed a retired session judge for the inspection of the record.

On tribunal’s order, Nadra also held inspection of the constituency record and submitted its final report on May 9, 2015. On May 30, 2015, Nadra submitted on May 30 a supplementary report. After hearing both sides, the tribunal reserved its verdict on August 17.

During two year proceedings, Khan visited election tribunal twice; firstly on November 26, 2014 to plead the tribunal not to combine decision of both constituencies and secondly on December 6, 2014 when he appeared before the tribunal to record his statement. Ayaz also appeared once before the tribunal on February 7, 2015 to record his statement.

Supporters of both the PML-N and the PTI remained on tenterhooks throughout the day outside the ECP building because of the delay in the announcement of the decision.

Initially it was announced that the verdict would be announced at 10am. Then it was delayed for a couple of hours, during which time the supporters of the two parties chanted slogans against their rivals. The law enforcers had to make serious efforts to avoid a clash. There came a stage when the Election commission secretary sought the police inspector general’s help to main order.

The police were also reported to have requested the tribunal to delay the order as in the prevailing situation it could create a law and order problem. The decision was ultimately announced at 7:30pm by which time workers on both sides were exhausted.

However, the verdict charged Khan’s fans who started dancing on the streets. The PML-N workers got demoralised because they could not even imagine that the ruling party would get such a verdict.