ISLAMABAD - The Federal government on Tuesday assured the Supreme Court that free and fair general elections will be held in the country on time in accordance with law and the constitution.

Hearing a petition regarding non-implementation of its judgment on electoral reforms, a three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, noted that the federal government was itself desirous of conducting/holding free and fair elections in the country in accordance with law and the constitution.

The Election Commission was directed to gear up for holding the forthcoming elections as per provisions of the constitution, particularly, meeting the requirements of holding free and fair elections. The chief justice said that they would not do anything which could delay the general elections in Pakistan and asked the counsel for ECP that the polls should be held in accordance with constitutional provisions and laws.

The court had asked the AGP to apprise the apex court of the Federal government’s stance for holding general elections, which were round the corner as previously on 20th February 2008 elections were held and in terms of Article 52 read with Article 224 (1) and (2), the National Assembly was about to complete its five-year term from the day of its first meeting.

On receipt of instructions from the prime minister on telephone, the AGP told the bench that the Federal Government abiding by the law and the constitution wanted on time free and fair elections in the country.

In this regard Attorney General for Pakistan Irfan Qadir also submitted a written statement that free and fair elections would be held in the country on time as per constitution.

Earlier, counsel for the ECP Munir Paracha in a written reply informed the court that commission had already completed its preparation for holding elections in the country. The court also asked the petitioner to go through the ECP’s reply.

Likewise, it also directed the AG to assist the court after having gone through the commission’s reply on the issues raised in the judgment as well as the implementation report, which were filed on Tuesday.

The court said that the AGP might undertake an exercise to fulfill the directions of the apex court, mentioned in Para 81 (l), (m) and (n), which says that all necessary steps must be taken to make voting compulsory in Pakistan as early as possible. Secondly, it says the Election Commission may explore ways and means to introduce appropriate system of election including ‘run-off election’ and ‘none of the above options’, in the light of the discussion made hereinabove, to ensure true representation of the people and rule of the majority; and thirdly, the ECP directs the Election Commission to frame rules and issue instructions to provide legal sanction to these measures and implement the same to achieve the ultimate objective of fair, free, just and honest election.

Meanwhile, Bilal Hassan Minto, learned counsel for petitioner, stated that the object noted hereinabove can be achieved, provided rules under Section 107 of the Representation of the People’s Act, 1976, are framed to achieve the object and purpose of Section 28, which provides that “an election under this Act shall be decided by secret ballot and, subject to the provisions of Section 29 every elector shall cast his vote by inserting in accordance with the provisions of this Act, in the ballot box, a ballot paper in the prescribed form.”

He further stated that the object of the compulsory voting, if achieved, would fulfill the requirement of the Constitution incorporated in Article 2A, according to which, “the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people”. Hearing of the case was adjourned till Wednesday.