ECP must stop election of corrupt persons: SC
14 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), having the support of 180 million people of the country, is authorised to hold free and fair elections and stop the corrupt people from getting elected in the forthcoming general elections.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, heard petitions regarding election reforms and right of overseas Pakistan to exercise their right to vote. The court observed that a delay of even a single day in the elections would not be tolerated.
In its interim order, the court ruled that the government should not have any objections to stopping corruption and corrupt practices and observed that the ECP was fully authorised to hold free and fair elections.
The court was informed that the federal government had reservations over the monitoring of election campaigns and monitoring was the result of the court's decision. The apex court asked the federal government to inform it of its reservations and why it had not approved the request of the ECP.
The court noted that the government had not answered what steps had been taken for holding transparent elections and it was pivotal that representatives were elected in a transparent manner.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked that the interim set-up would be in place in the next two-three days and it was a positive development that the Constitution would be implemented automatically.
Deputy Attorney General Dil Muhammad Alizai told the court that the government's categorical stand was to conduct fair and free elections. He said the ECP could hold elections without any hurdle.
"Elections will be held in free and transparent manner and no hindrance would be tolerated," Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed.
The chief justice said as general elections were around the corner, there should be no delay by any quarter and necessary steps should be taken under the Constitution as soon as possible in the greater national interest.
During the proceedings, Muhammad Munir Paracha, counsel for the ECP, furnished details of all the steps being taken for arranging free and fair elections. He said a request had been made to the government for legislation in this regard.
He stated out of these requests, one relates to the amendment in Section 104 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1996 (ROPA), by insertion of Section 104B. The proposed provision was insertion of Section 104B, Act LXXXV of 1976. In the said act, after Section 104A, inserted as aforesaid, the new section shall be inserted, namely, 104B.
Monitoring of election campaign, etc. (1) The commission shall appoint teams of monitors consisting of such number of members as may be determined by the commission, for a constituency or a group of constituencies which shall monitor election campaign of the candidates and shall report in the format approved by the commission violations of the code of conduct on daily basis, if any, by the candidates, to the district returning officer. He submitted that the district returning officer, on receipt of reports mentioned in sub-rule (1), shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of section 86B(1) of the act.
He, however, stated that the government has shown reservations in making the said amendment. Bilal Hassan Minto, counsel for the petitioner, pointed out that in substance this amendment relates to one of the observations of this court in the case of Workers Party Pakistan through Akhtar Hussain, general secretary and six others v. Federation of Pakistan and two others (PLD 2012 SC 681).
Hamid Khan, counsel for the PTI, while addressing the court and supporting the application of Article 218(3) of the Constitution, contended that the ECP is charged with making arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, freely and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices are guarded against, therefore, while making such arrangements, monitoring of the election campaign, etc, as it has been proposed in Section 104B of the ROPA, 1976, is most vital by any standard as this mechanism shall empower the Election Commission to arrange the elections to achieve the objects in terms of article 218(3) of the Constitution, particularly, to guard against corrupt practices.
The deputy attorney general appeared on behalf of the government but did not make any comments. The court wanted to have the viewpoint of the DAG, but he stated that as he could not seek instructions regarding the order dated March 12, 2013 as copy of the said order was received by him late.
The court on March 12 had also directed the counsel for the parties to file details of the measures in respect of which the Election Commission has sought amendments and the reaction of the government thereto in order to resolve the difficulties, if any, and also to examine as to whether there is any interest at all in the implementation of the judgment noted earlier.
However, the ECP submitted details and the court directed the counsel of ECP to obtain further instructions from the Election Commission. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till today (Thursday).