ISLAMABAD  -  Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed on Monday that the Supreme Court set aside the Lahore High Court verdict regarding nomination forms keeping in view the supremacy of Parliament.

Once again reiterating that there was no possibility of a delay in the upcoming general election, the chief justice observed: “Forget about any delay in elections.”

He further observed that Parliament was representative of the people and law-making body.

The chief justice also remarked that candidates could not gather details of their assets due to new nomination papers. He added that if the previous nomination papers were restored then the candidates would have the excuse that they could not gather the details and the court had no desire of delaying the general election.

With these observations, the three-judge bench of the top court headed by chief justice also decided to hear the appeal of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), wherein it challenged LHC’s May 30 verdict directing the commission to ensure that all mandatory information and declarations be included in the nomination forms on Wednesday (tomorrow).

The chief justice also hinted at forming a larger bench for the case in hand.

These observations along with decision to hear the case on Wednesday came after former minister of commerce and economist Dr Muhammad Zubair Khan took the rostrum, during the hearing of implementation proceedings regarding elections code of conduct (COC) filed by Workers Party, and stated that he wanted to move a petition on the changed/revised nomination forms.

When the chief justice asked him whether he had affiliation with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Dr Zubair responded that he was appearing as a voter.  He contended that the fundamental rights of voters would be breached if the elections were held on the new nomination forms, which lack columns of financial details of the candidates.

The chief justice observed that under what provision of law voters’ right was violated. The chief justice further observed that voters could not undermine the Parliament.

Justice Nisar told Dr Zubair that not only he will have to address the court pertaining to his locus-standi in the matter but will also have to establish under what provision of law the voters’ rights were violated.

Earlier, during the hearing of elections COC, counsel for Workers Party Advocate Bilal Minto informed the bench that the earlier COC was formulated by the ECP with the consultation of political parties in pursuance of top courts’ judgment laid down in 2012.

When a representative of ECP informed the court that the COC was revised after the passage of Election Act 2017 and new COC was introduced for 2018 general election, the counsel for Workers Party responded in negation and stated that the COC was issued in 2017.

Observing that it will examine the new and previous COC, the top court also directed the ECP to submit a reply on the matter.

In its latest civil miscellaneous application, the Workers Party has contended that the ECP filed a progress report in these implementation proceedings from which it appeared that the ECP intended to put in place a new COC for future elections.

 “However, the new code was not made applicable to any of the bye-elections that have taken place during the past year,” the applicant contended.

The application stated that clause 6 speaks of a ban on banners on election day while clause 11 relates to the absolutely necessary step of banning banners throughout the campaign.

 “However, a certain amount of clarity regarding this is perhaps required/desirable in the COC,” the application said

 The application further contended that one of the political parties had suggested that public rally, as opposed to corner meetings, should be held at designated places in a constituency and that their numbers should be prescribed.

 “It is submitted that this needs to be addressed. Also, what constitutes corner meeting and what constitutes a jalsa (public meeting) is perhaps a necessary distinction to be made.”

“The petitioner is apprehensive that permitting camps alone across a constituency will be so costly that it is impossible to rationalize how this can be permitted while keeping the total expenses under Rs1.5 million.”

The application further stated that these concerns were raised when the Representation of Peoples Act was still in force. However, the contentions raised therein are equally relevant to the Election Act 2017, it added. The application has prayed to the top court to direct the ECP to address the issues raised by the petitioner and make appropriate changes in the COC.

 

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN