The Lahore High Court on Friday barred the electronic media from telecasting judicial proceedings of Returning Officers (ROs). It also directed all ROs from Punjab to refrain from putting “random, intrusive and inquisitive questions” to candidates.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the Lahore High Court (LHC) issued an order on a petition seeking strict implementation of Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution while scrutinising nomination papers of candidates for the May 11 general elections.
The court order directed all ROs to refrain from asking “random, intrusive and inquisitive questions that have no nexus with the information supplied in the nomination paper”
LHC also ordered all ROs to scrutinise nomination papers when tangible and credible material to the contrary is available. Furthermore, all returning officers across Punjab were told not to allow electronic media from telecasting judicial proceedings from inside the courtroom.
During the court proceedings on Friday, Justice Shah told Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Naseem Kashmiri and representatives of the ECP that “strange news stories are carried by daily newspapers about queries of ROs to the candidates.”
On the judge’s order, the LHC Research Assistant presented news clippings about the nature of the ROs’ queries. These included candidates being questioned about the number of times they got married, about their daily expenses, and their religious beliefs.
To this Justice Shah remarked: “Who is to decide whose character is good, whose Islamic beliefs are sound and who is commenting against the ideology of Pakistan?”
Amicus Curie Shehzad Shaukat told the court that the RO will take decisions according to the nomination papers and the objections raised against it.
The other Amicus Curie, Bilal Manto, informed the court that Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution are Abstract Clauses and the people have to see their implementation. He said according to Article 218(3) of the constitution, the ECP has no power to interpret these articles.
Advocate Nasir pointed out that cameramen of TV channels are free to cover the court proceedings which is proving derogatory to the candidates.
A petition was filed in the Lahore High Court on Friday seeking directions to postpone upcoming general elections.
Advocate Shahid Jami filed this petition saying the ECP did not evolve any mechanism for the enforcement of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2013.
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