The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked returning officers to avoid asking irrelevant and random questions from poll aspirants, in line with a Lahore High Court ruling on Friday.
The commission sent the judgment to ROs on Saturday, along with a letter requesting them not to ask irrelevant questions.
In the judgment, LHC’s Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had noted that “…instead of building public confidence and trust, [returning officers] have done otherwise, deeply damaging the image of the judiciary by embarking upon an inquisition through self-tailored subjective question in-front of the live electronic media. In their overzealous virtuousness they have lost track of law.”
The court also issued an interim order that covered a set of directions for the ROs in order to safeguard the image of the judiciary and to maintain that the judiciary is there to achieve fair and free elections and not to carry out a “witch-hunt” and demean the politicians of the country.
The court asked all district & sessions judges/district returning officers/returning officers to “immediately refrain from asking random intrusive and inquisitive questions that have no nexus with the information supplied in the nomination paper or do not arise from the objections raised by the other side…”
The court had issued these directions after hearing of a petition filed by Munir Ahmed who had complained about some unrelated and unwanted questions that were asked by ROs during the scrutiny of nomination papers.
The LHC added in its judgment that “the RO must not forget that the real and unforgiving test of the candidate is yet to come in the court of people of Pakistan in the national elections and, therefore, the RO must not overstep the law and witch-hunt, tarnishing the neutrality and independence of the judiciary as a whole.”
‘Weird, funny and strange’ questions
1. In which situation does bathing become mandatory for married Muslims?
2. How many wives do you have, and how many nights do you spend with each of them?
3. Do you believe in honeymoons?
4. Have you been circumcised properly?
5. Have you stood in front of a girls’ college ever in your life?
6. Have you ever seen a censored movie?
7. Have you ever eaten pork?
8. If you are dying with thirst in a desert, and find a bottle of alcohol, would you drink?
9. If in a river, a great religious scholar, your wife and your son are drowning and you could save only one, whom would you save?
10. If you win the elections, won’t it disturb the lives of your husband, kids and in laws?
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2013.