‘We Need Completely Clean People to Contest Polls’: Supreme Court

An implementation bench by the top court would be formed on how to conduct the elections;  the court would itself ensure that election rules regarding expenditure and banner sizes are followed.

Jun 6, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) —  Considered one of the defining moments of elections 2018, the country’s top court on Wednesday made it mandatory for all candidates contesting in the upcoming polls to submit an affidavit that would require them to disclose all the information omitted in the new forms designed and approved by the Parliament as part of the Elections Reform Act 2017.

“We need completely clean people [to contest] in the elections,” Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said, warning that contempt proceedings would follow if incorrect information was submitted by candidates.

The directives were passed by Justice Nisar “after considering the supremacy of the Parliament” and the court as “custodians of the Constitution”– it accepted the amended form but sought full disclosure from aspiring candidates in the form of an affidavit.

The apex court had taken up applications by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and outgoing National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq against a Lahore High Court (LHC) order, declaring the new nomination forms void. The high court had ordered that the nomination forms be revised to include important information about candidates.

The very next day, however, the top court suspended the LHC decision, upholding the nomination papers approved by the parliament via Elections Act 2017. The amended forms do not seek full disclosures from candidates on their background.

The verdict found huge negative traction in the social media.

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Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar taking suo motu notice of the overturning today asked the ECP to draft the affidavits containing columns for the missing information by midnight, reasserting that the court would not allow any delays in the elections scheduled for July 25.

Heading a five-member larger bench, the CJ asked Ayaz Sadiq’s lawyer what details about the candidates was he attempting to hide with the new forms and why the people were being kept in the dark about vital information regarding their candidates. People must know the integrity and varsity of the contesting individuals, said the CJP.

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The chief justice noted that the court still wants the new forms mandated by the parliament to be used but also wants the omitted details to be included via an affidavit which every candidate would have to now submit.

The Electoral Reforms Act 2017 passed by lawmakers in October had taken away ECP’s authority to seek the following information from each candidate:

  • Educational qualifications of the candidate
  • Current occupation/job/profession/business of the candidate
  • Dual nationality, if any
  • National Tax Number/Income tax returns/ and payment of income tax
  • Agriculture tax returns and payment of agriculture tax
  • Criminal record, if any
  • Assets and liabilities of dependents
  • Declaration pertaining to election expenses
  • Declaration pertaining to any default in loan or government dues by dependents
  • Declaration that the candidate will abide by the code of conduct issued by ECP

These will now be annexed to the nomination form submitted by each candidate as an affidavit.

Later in the day, the apex court approved the affidavit drafted by ECP and asked all aspiring candidates to submit the affidavit with Returning Officers till June 11, 2018.

The Chief Justice also said that an implementation bench would be formed on how to conduct the elections and the court would itself ensure that election rules regarding expenditure and banner sizes are followed.

Justice Nisar said that as “custodians of the Constitution”, the apex court wanted transparency in the process.

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