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ECP must enforce all election laws, says SC

09 January, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday sought a comprehensive report till January 15 from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the implementation of its earlier judgment of June 8, 2012 on the election campaign expenses regulation case.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, issued the directive on a review petition filed by the Workers Party Pakistan (WPP) through its general secretary Akhtar Hussain.

The decision was authored by the chief justice on June 8 after conducting a number of hearings into a constitutional petition.The CJ, in his decision, had directed that all election laws be strictly implemented by the ECP in the discharge of its constitutional mandate under Article 218(3) of the Constitution, Representation of the People Act and other laws/rules.

"The Election Commission is empowered to check not just illegal actions relating to the election (violating the limits set for campaign finance, etc.) or corrupt practices (bribery, etc.), but is also empowered to review all election activities, including Jalsas, Juloos, use of loudspeakers, etc. for their effects on the standards of 'fairness, justness and honesty' that elections are expected to meet," it said.

The decision held that the ECP was also empowered to take preemptive measures to ensure that the spirit of `fairness, justness and honesty' of elections was fully observed. A candidate must accountfor all the expenses immediately after the election was over, the CJ held in his verdict.

Besides, the ECP was asked to facilitate the voters, with increase in the number of polling stations throughout the country so that the polling stations were not at a distance of more than two kilometers from the place of residence of voters.

The decision also banned establishing of camps near the polling stations while the ECP was asked to dispatch extracts from the voters' list in the name of one or more persons living in a house at least seven days before the polling day by post, or to save the postage by annexing such extracts with any of the utility bill.

"The Election Commission is obliged to ensure that all elections witness a substantial participation of the electorate, therefore, all necessary steps must be taken to make voting compulsory in Pakistan as early as possible," the CJ had held.

The verdict said that the ECP was empowered to frame rules to ensure that the elections were conducted justly, fairly, honestly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices were guarded against.

End.

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