Backed by the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of Pakistan completed on Wednesday the printing of new nomination forms, which are to be filled by all contesting candidates for the upcoming elections. However, a prominent law expert has disputed the legal status of the nomination forms.
Addressing the media, Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Aitzaz Ahsan endorsed the law ministry’s stance that the ECP was not authorised to make amendments in the nomination form on its own, without fulfilling the legal requirement of getting it approved by the president.
“Printing of the new nomination form is unconstitutional. The election commission cannot print them without the president’s approval,” he said.
Following an intense wrangling with the law ministry, the ECP on March 11 sent the nomination form for printing with a new format that includes additional columns about the financial and tax history of contestants. The law ministry had rejected the new format raising objections over most of the new columns inserted in the forms.
Aitzaz, the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association who had led the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of the incumbent judiciary during Musharraf’s era, slammed the superior judiciary over its remarks in the ECP case.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday observed that election authorities were empowered to make changes to ensure free and fair elections. “The remarks of the court in my opinion were not justified. It (the issue) can create hurdles in holding elections” Aitzaz said.
The ECP claims that printing of around 120,000 copies of the new nomination form was almost complete and would be dispatched to all districts across the country before March 18.
Other election matters
Meanwhile, the ECP reserved its judgment on a petition against the election of Ayaz Soomro as a senator on a PPP ticket. Aitzaz appeared as a counsel for Soomro to defend his uncontested election in the Senate last week. The seat fell vacant after the resignation of former finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh.
The ECP asked political parties on Wednesday to submit a list of candidates for reserved seats of women and minorities in national and provincial assemblies by March 24. The seats are allocated to political parties in proportion to the number of seats they win for a respective assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2013.
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