ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday debarred the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding by-polls, scheduled on February 20th, on seven seats of National and Provincial Assemblies of Punjab and Sindh on existing voter lists.

The seats became vacant after the resignations of MNAs Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi from Multan, Sardar Aseff Ali from Kasur, Jahangir Tareen from Lodhran, Khawaja Muhammad Khan Hoti from Mardan, Zulfiqar Mirza MPA from Sindh and the death of Amir Hayat Khan Rokhri MPA Punjab Assembly. The court issuing stay order about the upcoming by-elections directed the ECP to first prepare the verified voter lists and then hold by-elections on those seats.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the petitions moved by Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan and Pakistan Peoples Party former Chairperson late Benazir Bhutto for the excluding the bogus votes from electoral rolls.

The court accepted the plea of Naseem Chaudhry Chairperson National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice to give time for validating the status of 28 Parliamentarians, who were elected in by-elections held after the passage of 18th Amendment.

She informed that the bill for 20th Amendment has been tabled in the National Assembly on the issue,therefore, granted some time in this regard, and hoped soon the bill would be passed from both Houses of the Parliament. The court accepted her request.

However, the Chief Justice said they would not allow the ECP to hold elections on bogus voter lists because the Constitution demanded transparency in the elections.  The CJP said that the apex court in its July 30th, 2009 decision had buried the doctrine of necessity, adding, if the court stopped these 28 Parliamentarians from performing their functions then the system would be affected.

He said there was no Martial Law in India because they have followed the Constitution.

The court said the court wanted that the Pakistanis living abroad should be included in voter lists and adjourned its hearing till February 24th.

He said there were more than 37 million bogus voters in the lists and the court would not allow the commission to hold by-polls on those lists.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said if the elections are held on bogus lists then it would be dishonesty.

He said the court had pointed out the wrong in the lists but the government had not removed them.

The court directed the Attorney General of Pakistan to hold meeting with NADRA as well as ECP for stopping them that by-elections should not be held on unverified voter lists.

The court adjourned the hearing of the matter till February 6th.