SC seeks ECP, govt replies in overseas Pakistanis voting rights case
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought replies from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Federation over right of overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes, making it clear that no hurdles in holding of free, fair and transparent elections in the country would be tolerated.
A three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, issued directive after conducting proceedings on a plea moved by Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI).
The bench sought written response from the respondents for Thursday, regarding its earlier suggestion of arranging e-polling facilities to about 7 million expatriates.
Earlier, Muhammad Munir Paracha, counsel for ECP, apprised the bench that arranging ballot papers for the overseas Pakistanis could breach secrecy whereas they could face problems in countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The CJ told him that they could arrange e-polling in the embassies as the exercise was permissible under the laws of those countries.
The CJ said “People on TV talk shows referred to the court’s observations and lauded contributions of the expatriates to the national economy but when the time arrives, they backed off.”
Justice Saeed, addressing Deputy Attorney General Dil Muhammad Alizai, said it appeared that they were not willing to do anything to implement the court’s directives.
Dil Muhammad Alizai apprised that they had arranged meetings of the concerned parties and would be working out an amicable solution to the issue.
The same bench, on a separate plea of the Workers Party regarding electoral reforms, in its order directed the Federation to submit report over the amendments sought by the ECP on certain aspects of the electoral process.
The bench also directed the ECP’s counsel to submit a detailed report till Thursday regarding implementation of its verdict and the amendments required further so that the bench could examine and gave its finding in this regard as well.
The CJ during hearing reminded the Deputy Attorney General and ECP counsel that they had already declared law over the electoral reforms and if they still required the necessity, they would have to justify it.
Alizai said that the stance of ECP appeared unreasonable as on one hand, they were seeking for acceptance of their amendments but on the other they went ahead with their functions.
The CJ told him that they could do whatever required for holding of free and fair elections in accordance with the law.
“About 18 million people are saying so and they want free and fair elections,” he added.
Justice Saeed remarked that Pakistan should be run by chosen representatives through free and fair polls.
Paracha to a bench’s query replied that the Federation had objection to constitution of committees to monitor elections campaigns under Section 104 of the Representation of Peoples Act.
The CJ observed that they had already held it in their verdict.
Hamid Khan, counsel for PTI, stated that the finding of the court in its verdict, had binding force upon respondents and the citizens were interested that chosen representatives should be elected by holding free and fair elections.
He said that these representatives should not suffer from the corruption in the past or corrupt practices in future.
The bench, by directing the respondents to complete the exercise as early as possible in the larger national interests, adjourned the hearing to Thursday.