Censuring the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for its inaction over electoral reforms, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the ECP to approach the Accountant General of Pakistan for auditing political parties’ accounts.
The court also asked the ECP to initiate an inquiry against wealthy candidates purchasing votes and influencing elections.
A three-member bench was hearing a case on electoral reforms filed by president of Workers Party Pakistan Abid Hasan Minto. The petition also seeks to curtail expenditures by political parties on election campaigns.
After the 20th Amendment, the election commission is empowered to set up a caretaker government in the country but it is scared to exercise its power, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed.
The Election Commission should conduct an audit of political parties’ accounts and hold inquiries, he added.
The chief justice asked the ECP joint secretary, Syed Sher Afgan, if the commission has ever taken any notice of such illegal activities. No, the official replied.
Large political parties state their assets incorrectly, Afgan said.
If the ECP cannot scrutinise parties’ asset details, they might as well send their account statements to the post office and there will be no need for an election commission, the chief justice said.
If the commission will
not monitor transactions in political parties’ accounts, drug peddlers can ‘buy’ the entire election, the bench observed.
Afgan told the bench that a parliamentary body was working on a proposal regarding election reforms. Citing articles 9, 17, 218, 220 of the constitution, the court observed that laws already exist and need to be implemented.
Why does the ECP not check transaction of party tickets through scrutinising accounts, the court asked.
Afgan also placed on record the election scheme prepared for last general elections.
The court asked the ECP to update it before the next elections.
Meanwhile, Senator Farogh Nasim, the counsel for Muttahida Qaumi Movement, completed his arguments on electoral reforms and said he will submit a written transcript containing suggestions on behalf of his party.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will present their stance on election reforms on Wednesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2012.