The Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to immediately eliminate 37 million bogus votes from the electoral lists and has disposed off the petition.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary was hearing a petition seeking the exclusion of 37 million bogus votes cast in the 2008 general elections from the Election Commission of Pakistan’s voters’ lists.
The bench expressed the concern that in view of the ECP’s failure to uphold its mandate, the constitutional status of the legislative assemblies may be openly challenged. He remarked that it was the ECP’s constitutional duty to implement the SC’s directive in the Benazir Bhutto case regarding electoral lists. The points raised in the petition are of popular interest. “When there are bogus voters on the ECP’s electoral lists, what is the legitimacy of the elections?” The preparation of voters’ lists is the prime responsibility of the ECP. It cannot be transferred to others.
The court observed that the ECP has failed to fulfill its constitutional duty and rejected the ECP Secretary’s request to give him until December to complete the preparation of the computerised electoral list. Justice Sair Ali observed that the large number of fake votes have affected the credibility of the entire electoral system. “It seems the ECP is cheating on me for I, too, am a voter.” The Chief Justice observed that by-elections were being held. “The court is aware of the candidates winning in the polls.”
“How can you claim that you never admitted there were bogus votes?” The Chief Justice questioned the ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, referring to the press released issued by the commission stating that the ECP has excluded all bogus votes from the electoral lists.
The court directed the ECP to seek the assistance of the census department for compiling authentic electoral lists. The petitioner was directed to approach the Supreme Court again if the ECP fails to comply with the court’s orders.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 01st, 2011.