Govt-ECP clash on new forms hits SC
13 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Taking notice of the controversy between the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Law Ministry regarding amendments in nomination forms, the Supreme Court has expressed serious concern over the government's attitude, asking why is the federation not cooperating with the ECP to ensure free and fair elections.
The court also clarified that it would back the commission in this matter because it is doing everything for the implementation of its judgement in the Workers Party case. A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Tuesday observed that the executive authorities in terms of Article 190 of the constitution should have no hesitation in implementing the Workers Party case judgement and also in enforcing the constitution in letter and spirit read with the interpretation which had been made by the court.
The court has directed the deputy attorney general (DAG) to get instructions from the quarters concerned about the implementation of its June 8, 2012, judgement, in which Article 218(3) of the constitution had been interpreted elaborately. The court also pointed out that as this judgement was announced by it on 08.06.2012, wherein different articles of the constitution have been interpreted, particularly, Article 218 (3), therefore, there should not be any technical problem to overcome any of the difficulties, if faced by the ECP, in organising, conducting and making arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the elections are conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices are guarded against.
The court also said that it had already narrated history about how the nation suffered in the absence of free and fair elections in the past. Meanwhile, the counsel for the ECP, Muhammad Munir Paracha, stated that to implement the court's judgement as well as to ensure holding of elections strictly in accordance with Article 218(3) of the constitution, certain amendments have been suggested.
Upon this, the bench directed the counsel for the ECP to file details of these proposed amendments along with other steps taken for implementation of its judgement on Wednesday (today). At the outset of the hearing, the chief justice asked DAG Ali Zai whether there was any controversy between the ECP and the Law Ministry regarding the implementation of the Supreme Court's judgement in the Workers Party case, as a note was received by the Registrar Office in this regard. The chief justice also read the contents of the SC registrar's note, which was based on different newspapers reports.
The chief justice questioned why was the ECP so weak to tackle legal complexities, saying it had a lot of power to do everything to ensure free and fair election. "Whether we will also ask about law from the Law Ministry before delivering any judgement," he added.
The chief justice said that everyone in the country wanted free and fair elections and they would implement its judgement because now it was public property. He said that constitution was the voice of 180 million people and their demand was free and fair election.
The DAG assured the bench that the government was fully committed to holding the coming general elections honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law. During the course of proceedings, the law officer said that each and everyone in the government and opposition supports free and fair elections and for this purpose the federation was fully committed to leave no stone unturned. The chief justice questioned if the government was willing to hold elections in a transparent manner then why was it not backing the election commission in carrying out its business in a smooth manner.
On the direction of the bench, applicant Bilal Minto read out the paragraphs 38 to 44 of the Workers Party case judgement. After seeking reports from the federal government and the ECP in the matter, the court adjourned the hearing until today (Wednesday).