The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday began implementing the recommendations, outlined in the Daska by-poll inquiry report, against two top officials found guilty of administrative negligence in the NA-75 (Sialkot-IV) by-elections.
The Daska by-election was delayed for months because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the polling was held on February 19 this year, but it was marred by violence and allegations of rigging. The disappearance of some presiding officers also made the results dubious.
It was reported earlier that the electoral body decided to initiate departmental action and criminal proceedings against those responsible for administrative negligence in light of the inquiry into the rigging in the Daska by-election.
Subsequently, the ECP withheld the results of NA-75 due to violence, rigging and the disappearance of presiding officers and ordered re-election in the entire constituency. The re-election order was upheld by the Supreme Court.
According to reports, Joint Provincial Election Commissioner Punjab Abid Hussain and Deputy Director Provincial Election Commission Punjab Athar Abbasi had been notified as Officer(s) on Special Duty (OSD).
The Establishment Wing of the ECP issued a notification directing Hussain and Abbasi to report to the Central Secretariat.
The report also exposed the role of officers of the Punjab Education Department.
Earlier, the ECP formed two inquiry commissions. One commission was assigned the task to investigate the administrative officers regarding any negligence of duty on the day of polling, due to which the law and order was violated.
The second commission was formed to ascertain the facts about the presiding officers and security personnel on duty, who went missing on the election night and came to the office of the returning officer on the morning of February 20.
The inquiry reports stated that in light of the statements of the presiding officers, use of money to influence the results of the by-elections could not be ignored. The reports found the district returning officer (DRO) and the returning officer (RO) guilty of administrative negligence.
During the inquiry proceedings, former Sialkot deputy commissioner Zeeshan Javed Lashari confessed to meeting important political personalities while then district police officer (DPO) and the deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Zulfiqar Virk blamed each other for the law and order situation, it added.
At the meeting on Monday, the inquiry reports were reviewed. The ECP made both the reports public, which are now available on the ECP’s website. It was decided in the meeting that there would be departmental action or criminal proceedings or both would be initiated against those responsible.
In this regard, the ECP constituted a committee, comprising special secretary, director general law, director human resources and deputy director law to assist the ECP. This committee would be headed by the ECP secretary.
In the wake of the administrative shortcomings of the District Returning Officer (DRO) and the returning officer (RO), both the officers had been made OSD. The next formal meeting of the commission would be held within a week.