SC declares new poll papers legal

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that the new nomination form prepared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is in accordance with the constitution and the law.

sc1The court also made the contents of the additions in the nomination form part of its Thursday’s (March 14) order, saying it the commission made these additions as per its constitutional mandate.

“There is no doubt that the ECP has constitutional commitment and obligation to arrange/organise elections in free, fair and honest (manner) in terms of Article 218(3) (while it) also enjoys the power under Article 222 of constitution.”

Heading a three-member bench, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry reiterated that ‘not a single day’s delay’ would be permitted in the general elections. He said that the national assembly, which adopted five bills recently, that could have also worked on electoral reforms.

Attorney General Irfan Qadri said that ECP-proposed amendments were examined by the law ministry and a Senate special committee. The ministry sent back the draft with some objections to the ECP, but no reply was received from the commission, he added.

The attorney general also said that it would not be possible for the parliament to legislate because the national assembly would dissolve tomorrow (March 15, 2013). He however said that if essential, the needful legislation can be subsequently done through an Ordinance under Article 89 of the constitution.

The court observed that the president is competent to issue Ordinance to meet the ECP requirements. “Therefore, there should not be any difficulty ….”

The ECP counsel placed before the bench sample of the new nomination paper printed by ECP recently. The attorney general said that the president was yet to approve ECP request, therefore the commission could not print the amended forms by its own, as the government had certain reservations.

But Paracha contended that ECP has to arrange free and fair elections in terms of Article 218(3), therefore the electors have the right to know about the credentials of their candidates whom they wanted to vote. He said the nomination paper was not beyond the scope of constitution and statutory law, and that they have not changed the Rule 3 of Representation Rules.

The CJ said in Workers Party case notices were issued to all major political parties. He noted that no party had challenged the judgment. Directing the ECP to submit comprehensive report on purposed amendments, the court adjourned hearing until Friday.

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