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Voters can access information about candidates: SC

27 March, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that a citizen who is also an elector or voter has the right to access information in all manners with reference to credentials, antecedents, etc, of a candidate for whom he is going to vote, in view of Article 19-A of the constitution.

It observed that it is the fundamental right of a citizen to have access to information about the candidate for whom he/she may cast vote. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heard implementation proceedings of directions in the cases regarding initiation of action against those people who were involved in corrupt practice of submitting bogus degrees in their nomination papers during the 2008 election.

Election Commission of Pakistan Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed informed the Supreme Court that a plan had been devised to place the nomination papers of all candidates for upcoming general elections on the official website of the commission. "The ECP should evolve a mechanism enabling the electors to get copy of nomination papers submitted by their candidates, on paying the fee and other restrictions, but the right of information cannot be taken away from the voters," read the court's written order.

The chief justice said that the doctrine of throwaway vote should be discouraged and the electors should seek information about the candidates and file objections. The secretary said that the ECP has already undertaken an exercise to verify the educational testimonials of 1,170 elected representatives who participated in 2008 general elections, and the subsequent election of the Senate. He said that except in 69 cases the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had authenticated the educational testimonials of all of them.

Ahmed further stated that the ECP itself has examined the cases which were not authenticated and concluded that the educational testimonials of 27 representatives suffer from no deficiency. He said out of the remaining in 34 cases references were sent to respective DPOs and the courts, and except for two cases, one before sessions judges in Dera Allah Yar and other Dera Ismail Khan, rest of the cases have not been decided yet. Following the information given by ECP official the bench directed the registrars of all high courts to gather the details of the criminal cases pending before DSJs against fake degree holders and submit report in two days.

The court also directed the Inter Board Committee of Chairman, Higher Education Commission and Wifaqul Madaris to speed up probe into fake degree matter. It directed the ECP to collect information from police about the fate of the pending criminal proceedings against the fake degree holders.

End.

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