On the agitation and insistence of PTI, and out of fear of its countrywide demonstrations, the government at last succumbed to its pressure and promulgated the ‘General Elections 2013 Inquiry Commission Ordinance-2015’, appointing a high powered judicial commission. Under Act 89 of the Constitution, this ordinance has the same force as an act of Parliament and is therefore unassailable unless annulled or repealed by the Parliament. Section 3 of the Ordinance underlines the scope of its inquiry, on the basis of which the Commission would inquire into and determine whether or not the General Elections-2013 were organised and conducted impartially, honestly, fairly.

Whether these elections were manipulated or influenced pursuant to a systematic effort by design by anyone, and whether the result of the General Elections -2013 are true and fair reflection of the mandate given by the electorate. A reading of the Ordinance per se shows that the Commission would not be as much concerned with individual or random instances of rigging, as with instances of rigging or manipulation, which are carried out systematically or by design by a party or an individual.

This implies that only the instances of rigging done systematically or under a calculated design would be worthy of cognisance by the Commission. It would indeed be difficult for the Commission to conclusively decide whether an irregularity was random or done purposely under design by a party or individual to his benefit.

Rigging, which is the fundamental question has not been defined in the Ordinance, and is therefore likely to raise many questions making the task of the Commission difficult. Then there are manipulations, which materially affect the result of election and there are also those irregularities which do not materially change the result of election. Would the Commission draw distinction between these two types of malpractices?

The Commission has also been enjoined to finalise its report within 45 days, which appears to be too meagre in view of the gigantic task. It is however heartening to see that the Commission has been given vast powers to follow procedures and to require a political party or in its discretion to allow even individuals to file their complaints. This would reduce the bulk of complaints and also make their task far easier to decide. In the event of political parties becoming complainants, the onus to prove allegations would be shifted to the parties. We all wish that this time around, the political crisis about the legitimacy of the last General Elections may be safely settled by the Judicial Commission even though nearly two years have elapsed since the holding of Elections.

ZAFAR AZIZ CHAUDHRY,

Lahore, April 15.