ECP, NA Speaker, Opposion Leader in Senate also ready to move SC against verdict
ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister retired Justice Nasirul Mulk on Saturday issued directives for the Attorney General of Pakistan office to approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the Lahore High Court verdict on the new nomination forms.
The interim prime minister issued these directives to ensure holding of the upcoming general elections on time.
Earlier, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had decided to approach Supreme Court for guidance over Lahore High Court (LHC) decision to annul the nomination papers prepared by the parliament.
The decision was announced by Additional Secretary Admin, Akhtar Nazeer, following an emergency meeting of the commission. He said the meeting discussed rulings by the Lahore, Islamabad and Balochistan high courts.
Meanwhile, former speaker of National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq has also announced to move SC against the verdict, saying that the amendments were carried out with the consent of all the parties. ECP making new forms can delay the elections, he added. Sadiq further demanded to not change the date of the general polls.
Leader of Opposition in the Senate, Sherry Rehman, said that it seemed as if the elections were about to be delayed. She said that the schedule of nomination papers had been changed. “PPP will not let elections be delayed at any cost,” she said.
Sherry Rehman said that if the nomination papers were altered then they should be sent back to the parliament for correction.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, said that the chief justice’s remarks that elections would be held on time were welcoming. “We have faith in the chief justice,” he said.
A day earlier, the LHC set aside the new nomination papers, approved by parliament through the Election Act 2017, and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to start the process of issuing nomination forms afresh after improving them with addition of necessary details.
Following the verdict, speculations are rife that the ECP will not be able to hold general elections on the scheduled date – July 25.
However, the commission in categorical terms stated that the polls will be held on time and decided to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.
Justice Ayesha Malik of the IHC in her judgment on Friday ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that all mandatory information and declarations are made part of the revised Form A, the nomination form for election to an assembly or the Senate, and Form B, the statement of assets and liabilities.
The court issued its judgment on a petition asking the court to declare the two forms unconstitutional.
The petitioner’s lawyer Saad Rasool contended before the court that the forms had been amended by the parliament to omit vital information and mandatory declarations required under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution that give voters an idea about a candidate’s credibility.
“The impugned forms do not provide for mandatory information and declarations as required by the Constitution and the law,” Justice Malik wrote in the 39-page judgement.
“The lack of disclosure and information [in Forms A and B] essentially means that a voter will not have the required information on the basis of which an informed decision can be made.”
In support of his arguments, the petitioner’s counsel had attached a comparative chart showing the difference between the 2008, 2013 and 2018 nomination forms which he claimed showed that vital information was missing from the new forms.
While partially allowing the petitions, the court ruled that the ECP is empowered to add to or improve Form A and B “so as to fulfill its constitutional mandate of ensuring honest, just and fair elections”.
The judge dismissed the petitioner’s challenge to the drafting of the nomination form by the parliament for having no merit. NNI