In a significant development, the Peshawar High Court has granted the request of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Ali Amin Gandapur regarding the electoral symbol, directing the Election Commission to assign him the symbol of a ‘Malka’ (queen).
The justices presiding over the case, Justice Shakil and Justice Waqar Ahmed, heard the plea related to Ali Amin Gandapur’s electoral symbol. During the proceedings, Ali Amin’s lawyer presented arguments, highlighting that Ali Amin is contesting elections from NA-44 DI Khan and two provincial constituencies. The lawyer requested that initially, a symbol was allocated, but it was later changed to a radio set for the general elections. However, for the provincial constituencies, symbols of a bottle and a stethoscope were assigned.
Responding to the lawyer’s presentation, Justice Shakil Ahmed inquired whether the Returning Officer (RO) had the authority to change these symbols once they were assigned. He questioned if the RO had the power to modify them after initially allotting the symbols. The justice expressed concern about the lack of protection for the law in the absence of adherence, comparing it to a jungle law when even the judiciary turns a blind eye.
Further pressing the issue, Justice Shakil Ahmed sought clarification on whether the RO had the authority to alter symbols, highlighting the need for consistent application of the law. The lawyer replied that the Returning Officer had changed the symbols without proper procedure. In response, Justice Shakil Ahmed remarked that if such modifications were made without justification, it raised questions about the integrity of the process.
Upon inquiring about any actions taken against the relevant RO by the Election Commission, the court was informed that the Election Commission had not taken any action in this regard. The lawyer for the Election Commission also asserted that they had closed their eyes to the matter.
The court acknowledged the psychological impact of electoral symbols, noting that they influence voters’ decisions. Emphasizing the importance of transparent practices, Justice Shakil Ahmed instructed the court to be informed whether the symbols for the respective constituencies were printed on the ballot papers and urged the Election Commission to investigate the matter promptly.
Subsequently, the court approved Ali Amin Gandapur’s request regarding the electoral symbol, directing the Election Commission to allocate him the ‘Malka’ symbol. This decision underscores the significance of adherence to electoral laws and procedures, ensuring fairness and transparency in the electoral process.