Court: SC asks ECP to ensure timely conduct of upcoming election

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the Election Commission of Pakistan ECP was fully authorized under the constitution to amend the nomination forms and also make other necessary changes.

A three member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed, while hearing pleas seeking electoral forms, directed the ECP to ensure timely holding of the upcoming general elections.

The court noted that it had already interpreted Article 2183 of the Constitution in its June 8, 2012 judgment making it clear that the Election Commission was charged with the duty to ‘organize’ and ‘conduct the election’.

It said the language of the Article implies that the Election Commission is responsible not only for conducting the election itself, but also for making all necessary arrangements for the said purpose, prior to the election day.

It said by conferring such responsibility on the Election Commission, the constitution ensures that all activities both prior, on and subsequent to election day, that are carried out in anticipation thereof, adhere to standards of justness and fairness, are honest, in accordance with law and free from corrupt practices.

The court noted that it had also already observed in a case that election is a process which starts with the issuance of the election programme and consists of the various links and stages in that behalf, as for example, filing of nomination papers, their scrutiny, the hearing of objections and the holding of actual polls.

The court made it clear that these observations subject all election related activities that take place between the commencement and the end of the election process to the jurisdiction conferred on the Election Commission under Article 2183. “The Election Commission therefore has to test all election related activities that are carried out in the relevant period, both individually and collectively, against the standards enumerated therein”, the court ruled.

The court said the Election Commission may also exercise its powers in anticipation of an ill that may have the effect of rendering the election unfair. It said Article 2183 also empowers the Election Commission to ensure that the election process does not suffer from any corrupt or illegal practices, adding that section 103c of the article empowers the Election Commission to issue instructions, exercise its powers and make orders to effectuate the said standard.

The court noted that since there is no cavil with the proposition that the Election Commission stands as an independent and Fully empowered constitutional body, the 18th and 20th Constitutional Amendments, have substantially enhanced the degree of independence and the scope of powers enjoyed by the Election Commission.

During the hearing, ECP’s counsel Muhammad Munir Peracha told the court that to implement the court’s June 8, 2012 judgment as well as to ensure holding of elections strictly in accordance with Article 2183 of the Constitution, certain amendments were suggested. The court then asked him to submit the details of these amendments by placing a comparative statement along with the other steps taken to implement the judgment in view of the observations made therein.

The court asked the Deputy Attorney General Dil Muhammad Alizai to seek instructions from the government with reference to the implementation of the judgment wherein Article 2183 of the Constitution had also been interpreted elaborately. The court directed the parties to submit a comprehensive report over the conduct of upcoming elections today Wednesday. Further hearing will take place today Wednesday.

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