LAHORE - Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court Wednesday observed directions to Election Commission of Pakistan cannot be issued at this juncture to add NOTA (None of the above) to ballot papers as preparation for printing ballot papers has already been made.

Justice Karim gave this observation on a petition seeking directive for the ECP to add NOTA to ballot papers. The court adjourned the hearing till September.

The judge observed that the direction can be passed after hearing detailed arguments for the election scheduled for 2023. Wasim Rana, a local citizen, had moved the petition through Advocate Sheraz Zaka who argued that option “NOTA” should be included in the ballot papers as it would enhance the scope of political expression and public confidence in the Democratic process.  He argued the option to include "none of the above" is a fundamental right of every citizen, keeping in consideration Article 19A which recognizes freedom of expression.  Sheraz said people who normally do not have votes would also be engaged in political process.

The counsel said that the voters who do not vote would also be engaged in political process and would also be exercised their right to vote. He said the addition of option Nota would ensure credibility, enhance accountability and transparency to the electoral process.

He asked the court to order ECP to include this option in ballot papers for this election.