ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court docket of Pakistan on Tuesday slammed the chief election commissioner, directing the ECP to make sure the Senate polls are held in a clear method.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court docket headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed carried out the listening to of the presidential ordinance on holding the Senate elections via the open poll.
Amongst these current within the apex courtroom for the listening to have been the chief election commissioner, the legal professional basic, the election commissioner’s lawyer and PPP’s Raza Rabbani.
“The election commissioner should tell us how he plans to stop corrupt practices in the Senate elections,” requested the chief justice in the course of the listening to.
Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan noticed that the Election Act doesn’t point out corrupt practices particularly. “The word ‘guard’ has been used for political interference before and after elections, as well as corrupt practices,” famous the decide.
Justice Ahsan stated that guarding towards corrupt practices on this context would imply that precautionary measures should be taken earlier than the elections in order that they’re held in a clear method.
“Money and political interference are used in elections,” famous Justice Ahsan. “The election commission should tell us how it plans on stopping such practices.”
The chief election commissioner responded by saying that the ECP does all it could beneath its jurisdiction to make sure that corrupt practices are thwarted. “Action is taken before and after elections, on grievances and complaints,” stated the election commissioner.
“Chief election commissioner sahab, you aren’t understanding the depth of the problem,” Justice Gulzar responded. “The ECP is not an ordinary government department, it has a mandate,” urged the chief justice.
The chief election commissioner’s counsel current contained in the courtroom tried to talk however the bench minimize him off. “We have summoned the chief election commissioner. Please keep quiet,” the bench informed the lawyer.
Explaining the measures taken by the ECP to curb corrupt practices, the chief election commissioner stated that the fee had launched a legislation for candidates directing them to open a checking account with a restrict of Rs1.5mn for election-related bills.
He defined that Senate elections are held through secret balloting as per Article 226.
“What is a secret ballot?” Justice Ahsan requested the election commissioner.
“A secret ballot is one which cannot be identified,” he responded.
“From where have you assumed this definition of a secret ballot,” requested Justice Ahsan.
The chief election commissioner responded by saying that there’s a process highlighted within the Election Act. He stated the election fee was conscious of its duties.
“The ECP cannot take action action against candidates for voting outside party lines,” defined the chief election commissioner.
“Maybe you haven’t tried to understand our order from the previous day,” the chief justice responded.
“You don’t seem to understand how elections take place in Pakistan. Making a code of conduct won’t solve the issue,” he added.
The chief election commissioner responded to the criticism saying that the ECP’s monitoring and finance wing has been strengthened. The bench, nevertheless, didn’t appear happy on the response.
“These are the job responsibilities of officers,” stated the chief justice. “What are you doing?”
“Chief election commissioner sahab, you are not informing us with a scheme to stop corrupt practices.”
The election commissioner repeated that the votes which are polled within the Nationwide Meeting can’t be recognized.
“Where is it written in the Constitution that after a vote is cast, it cannot be identified,” requested Justice Ahsan.
“There is no provision in the Constitution for ballot papers that cannot be identified,” the chief election commissioner responded.
Justice Yahya Afridi then requested the chief election commissioner whether or not the steps taken by the ECP are sufficient and whether or not they may cease corrupt practices from happening.
Senate ‘horse-trading’ video
The chief election commissioner stated that the ECP has taken discover of the Senate ‘horse-trading video’ from 2018 and had known as a gathering to debate it.
“The election commission got to know about a video from 2018 today?” requested Justice Ahsan.
“Did the ECP disqualify any senator? Were there not complaints relating to the buying and selling of votes after the last Senate elections?”
The election fee chief responded by saying that the electoral physique took discover of corrupt practices within the Kurram by-election and had additionally taken discover over the presence of parliamentarians in an election rally that occurred yesterday.
“You don’t have to sit in your office and work from there only,” the chief justice retorted.
The election commissioner responded by saying that the ECP will search candidates’ information from NAB and the FIA. “We will also seek candidates’ documents from NADRA, State Bank of Pakistan and the FBR.”
Coming again to the video, the election commissioner stated that the ECP will resolve whether or not or not a forensic audit of the video must be carried out.
“The video has been doing the rounds since 2018, yet no action has been taken yet,” remarked the chief justice.
“Isn’t the election commission trying to end corruption from the electoral process? Just look at what is being said about the [Senate] elections,” the chief justice stated.
The election commissioner then stated that he would deliver up the subject of open balloting beneath dialogue.
ECP ought to take all stakeholders into confidence, says PPP’s Raza Rabbani
The legal professional basic additionally gave his suggestions to the election commissioner on holding clear polls. The chief justice urged the commissioner to assessment these suggestions.
“The attorney general is representing the government,” objected the PPP’s Raza Rabbani.
“The recommendations of a single party will not be acceptable for the rest. All stakeholders should be taken along,” he stated.
Rabbani stated that there was no time for a constitutional modification earlier than the Senate elections, to which the chief justice stated that that was not what the courtroom was suggesting.
“Holding transparent elections is the ECP’s job. All politicians talk of corruption in Senate elections,” stated the chief justice. “The election commission is aware of everything that happens.”
Justice Ahsan defined that the apex courtroom was tasking the election fee to cease corrupt practices beneath the present legal guidelines, including that the ECP had full authority to draft roles for the electoral course of.
“We are not asking you to do away with secret balloting,” stated Justice Ahsan.
The listening to was subsequently delay until tomorrow.