Three member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed conducted hearing of the electoral reforms case here on Thursday.
The Supreme Court said that Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should implement article 218 of the constitution in letter and sprit.
In the order, the apex court stated that the amendments carried out in the nomination paper are in accordance with the law and the constitution.
The Court said that ECP has authority for making amendments in electoral process .Chief Justice remarked that court will not allow postponement of elections in country even for a single day.
The court ordered the ECP to strictly implement article 218 of the constitution for holding free and fair elections. It further said that the whole nation wanted to elect representatives who are not indulged in corruption, voters have the right to know about their prospective representatives who they will elect; therefore, the candidates must present their details to the election commission.
During the hearing, the chief justice remarked that five bills were adopted in the National Assembly (NA), adding that the electoral reforms bill could also have been approved.
He inquired that the incumbent government is going to complete its 5-year term, what steps have been taken so far for electoral reforms.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir said that he held meeting with law secretary last night. He informed the court that Senate committee is examining the amendment recommendations proposed by ECP.
The chief justice said that the senate could not do legislation without National Assembly, on which counsel of ECP Munir Paracha said that then there is a need to bring ordinance for the amendments.
The Chief Justice addressing Munir Paracha said that the elections is one of the most important issues at the moment, adding that the latter had informed the court on Wednesday that the government agreed to the amendment and there were differences over one point.
Munir Paracha said that the government is agreeing to the amendments but it is not initiating the legislation.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir argued that the ECP should have taken all stakeholders into confidence over the issue of nomination papers.
Chief Justice remarked that under the constitution the ECP was right to publish new nomination papers, adding if the government or the president had any objection over the new nomination papers then they should have informed the Election Commission.
“This form was not challenged at any forum,” he said, adding that the new form was designed to implement article 218 of the constitution.
AG Irfan Qadir argued that if the president disapproves the form then it could lead to unnecessary delay in the elections.
Upon which, the Chief Justice asked why would president do that as the new form is designed to uphold elections laws.
AG informed the bench that amendments with regard to electoral reforms were sent to the Senate’s special committee which forwarded its recommendations to the ECP but there was no response from the commission.
Upon which Justice Azmat Saeed asked will ECP forward its response after the elections. The bench directed the ECP to expedite the process.
Chief Justice said that not a single day’s delay would be permitted in the coming general elections.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Iftikhar said one wrong step may lead to delaying the election for an indefinite period.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed inquired as to why the government is not legislating on the amendments it had agreed on.
Chief Justice remarked that the election commission is printing nomination forms in accordance with a court order as well as the concerned constitutional requirements.
He said the commission was an independent body and could take the necessary steps, adding that the Constitution had empowered it to do so.
The chief justice added that the government could implement all of the commission’s recommendations.
However, Attorney General Irfan Qadir objected saying how could the commission approve and print nomination forms on its own.
To which, the chief justice said if the president had not responded to the nomination form, it implied that he had not rejected it.
Irfan Qadir added that although the government was in agreement with most of the recommendations, it still had some reservations on certain issues.
The court stated that EC could take any step within the Constitutional limits. It was EC choice how it takes steps, and knowing reality about their representative was right of people, the court stated.
The court termed the point pertaining to criminal cases right of voter.
During the hearing, Chief Justice said that all recommendations given by EC can be implemented.
Attorney General stated that all stakeholders should be taken into confidence regarding nomination form. The government lawyer also said that printing of nomination papers is illegal.
Chief Justice said that if it was illegal act then what legal actions were taken regarding the issue. He said that if President did not take any action over the issue then the draft was not rejected. The court adjourned the further hearing of the case till today (Friday).