The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought an explanation from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the delay in finalising the new voters’ list following the exclusion of 37 million bogus votes.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, also directed ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan to submit on Wednesday (today) a detailed report on the progress made so far in finalising the electoral rolls.
The bench issued these directives on a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. It also ordered placing along the case former premier Benazir Bhutto’s petition for direction to the election commission to include the names of millions of voters, who were left out when the voters’ lists were revised on the basis of the computerised national identity cards (CNICs).
The bench also ordered the federal government to submit comments within 15 days over the waste of resources on holding the general elections as alleged in a petition filed by the Workers Party Pakistan.
The party’s counsel said billions were squandered on electioneering, displaying banners, printing of pamphlets and other election-related activities.
“Could an ordinary man think about contesting the elections today?” the party’s counsel asked rhetorically and prayed to the apex court to issue directives for reforming the current election process.
The SC then asked the ECP to inform the court about the legal status of the recent by-polls, which were arranged when the commission’s formation had been incomplete. The 18th amendment required four judges – one from every province – to be appointed as members of the commission for streamlining its functions.
PTI counsel Hamid Khan said the court had given the ECP a time-frame to prepare the electoral rolls afresh after removal of the fake votes.
“The commission could not do it despite the lapse of the deadline and sought more time to complete the process,” he added.
ECP Additional Secretary Sher Afgan informed the apex court that the deadline for processing the list was extended in consultation with the political parties.
“It’s a violation of the court order,” the chief justice observed.
Afgan said the ECP had intimated the Supreme Court registrar of its decision to extend the deadline.
Meanwhile, the chief justice stated that the preparation of voters’ lists should not be taken lightly at all.
“Usually the election process is completed in a month’s time. What would you do if elections are announced today?” the chief justice asked rhetorically.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2011.
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