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SC moves on PTI plea for votes verification

17 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has sought para-wise comments, within 15 days, from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's petition regarding the verification of thumb impressions in four constituencies.

The plea would be fixed for hearing following the filing of comments by the ECP. The court has also directed the ECP to summon reports from two election tribunals on non-compliance of commission's direction. It has also sought compliance reports from the constituencies of NA-125, Lahore, from where Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq won his National Assembly seat, and NA-154, Lodhran, from where Siddiq Khan Baloch had won. Both belong to the PML-N.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan took up the miscellaneous application of PTI's Additional Secretary Saifullah Nayazi in the 2012 Workers Party case. This application was moved in June this year for the verification of thumb impressions in four constituencies, but was returned by SC registrar office.

After six months of filing the case, former CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on December 9 ordered the registrar office to fix the petition for preliminary hearing. During the hearing, the CJP made it clear that the court would not like to comment at this stage on merits of the case and stated that the Supreme Court was a court of precedent. "If we allow your case, several cases from Karachi to Khyber will come to the court," he remarked.

The chief justice said that in the full court reference, he had also emphasised laying down parameters of Article 184(3) of the constitution that empowers the apex court to enforce fundamental rights. PTI Chairman Imran Khan was also present in the courtroom and wanted to speak, but the chief justice told him that it was not the practice of the apex court to allow the petitioner to speak in presence of the counsel. However, the court told him there were two aspects of the case – political and constitutional.

The PTI chairman has contended that the May 11, 2013 general elections were the most massively rigged polls in the country's history. He also said that not only the major political parties but the ruling party too had admitted that the elections were rigged, which was also evident from the fact that the people came out on the streets protesting. He further said that taking notice of the rigging by the apex court in at least four constituencies would give a broad general idea about the extent of the rigging and would also help ensure that the next general elections are held in a free, fair and transparent manner, otherwise the election tribunals would take almost four years in deciding the matter.

Radio Pakistan has reported Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as saying that the government has given administrative control over the process of thumb impression verification to the Election Commission of Pakistan. Nisar clarified that NADRA systems have not been transferred to the ECP, rather, the commission has only been given administrative control for three months over the specific process in thumb impression verification.

He was responding to the point raised by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi and supported by Pakistan Peoples Party's Naveed Qamar and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. Nisar said that the move is intended to satisfy the opposition and it is subject to consensus of the ECP. The minister said the process of thumb verification should not be confined to only four constituencies. He clarified that the removal of NADRA chairman had nothing to do with verification of thumb impressions.


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