ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Friday has accepted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s apology for the violation of the electoral code by casting his vote publicly on the election day.
The commission has also ordered the issuance of notification for Imran’s victory in NA-53, where he stamped the ballot paper publicly instead of going behind the voting screen to cast his vote in secrecy.
Earlier during the day, during the hearing of the suo motu case by a four-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza, the PTI chief submitted a written reply and an affidavit.
ECP took notice of Imran publicly stamping the ballot paper in the NA-53 Islamabad constituency, instead of going behind the voting screen to cast his vote.
In his written reply, Khan mentioned that he values the ECP as well as the electoral rules. He said that on July 25, he entered an overcrowded polling station, without any companions, to cast his vote. According to Khan’s reply, furniture was lying everywhere in the station.
“I was told to put my ballot on a table and stamp it when I asked the staffers present there about where to mark the ballot,” Khan told the ECP.
It was further reported by PTI chief’s counsel Babar Awan that his client “did not intentionally stamp the ballot paper publicly”.
The reply stated, that “Imran’s ballot paper photos were taken without his permission, while the curtain, used around the ballot for secrecy, had fallen due to the crowd inside the polling booth”.
Imran won the NA-53 seat by defeating former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, bagging 92,891 votes in contrast to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader’s 44,314 votes.
Earlier, on Thursday, the electoral watchdog had declared Imran victorious from NA-35 Bannu, NA-95 Mianwali, and NA-243 Karachi constituencies after accepting the PTI chief’s apology in poll code violation case.
However, it is yet to issue the victory notification from the NA-53 constituency in Islamabad after it dismissed Imran’s reply in the ballot secrecy case.
The PTI chief’s counsel had submitted a request to the ECP to issue notification for Imran’s victory from NA-53 Islamabad.
The ECP, however, dismissed the reply submitted by Awan and summoned an affidavit from Imran apologising for the controversial vote casting complete with his signature.
The notification was withheld from the constituency in view of the pending case against the PTI chief for violating the electoral code of conduct.
The ECP had earlier withheld notifications of Imran’s victory from NA-131 Lahore and NA-53 Islamabad constituencies. Although the ECP had issued victory notifications for the PTI chief in three other constituencies, NA-35 Bannu, NA-243 Karachi and NA-95 Mianwali, it had kept these notifications subject to its final decision in the pending cases against Imran.
The secrecy of the ballot is guaranteed by the Constitution under Article 226 that states: “All elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot.”
According to Section 185 of the Election Act, “A person can be given a six-month jail sentence and/or fine of Rs1,000 for not casting their vote in secrecy.”
Khan won all five National Assembly constituencies he contested from in the polls. The ECP’s notifications about his victory from three constituencies had already been conditionally issued, and a victory notification for NA-131 was issued on Thursday.