SC seeks voter lists by Feb 23

supreme court of pakistanISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) stance over delay in preparing voter lists and ordered completing the process by February 22, 2012, threatening the ECP secretary of punitive action for any further delay.

Questioning the conduct of by-elections in the presence of bogus voter lists and an incomplete election commission, the court also issued notices to 23 parliamentarian elected in by-polls, directing them to appear on Jan 10, 2012.“The preparation of electoral rolls is advertently being held up,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked while heading a three-member apex court bench hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan seeking preparation of fresh electoral rolls and elimination of all bogus votes.

Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority) and ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) on Wednesday submitted their reports regarding the delay. Nadra and ECP officials held floods and lawlessness responsible for the delay, but the court rejected both these excuses.The ECP secretary told the court that the process was delayed after Sindh and Khyber Pakhutunkhwa governments sends resolutions asking for delay due to floods and law and order situation. The chief justice said Sindh had not send any resolution and noted that floods hit only six districts of Sindh.

He said peace had been restored in Swat as he himself visited the valley recently. The situation in Karachi is quite normal, while there was disturbance only in few parts of Balochistan, he added.The ECP report also mentioned that ECP secretary was preparing new lists with the assistance of Nadra and since its volume was huge therefore delay was caused. The CJP said that if they accept the excuses of the election commission, new lists would be compiled in June 2012. He said that after the polls of February 2008 the commission had enough time, but they did nothing. He said India, which is bigger than Pakistan, voter lists are prepared well in time there.

Imran Khan has maintained in his petition that the status of the present assemblies and government is quite dubious, as the ECP revealed that almost 44 percent of registered voters were bogus. Imran Khan’s counsel Hamid Khan submitted the pace of preparation of electoral rolls denotes the lists would not be ready even in six months.The chief justice directed the ECP to complete the voter lists process by February 23, 2012 and submit its reports fortnightly. He said that voters’ lists should be precise and according to CNIC. The Chief Justice remarked that 44 percent of votes were bogus and there would be chaos in the country if next polls were held on the basis of same lists.

Voicing his dissatisfaction, the CJ said if the lists were not compiled properly, the whole democratic process will become dubious. If there is no transparency, the system may derail, he stressed. Addressing the ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed, the CJ asserted, “We don’t know how you will do it but, you have to do it.”As no one from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) appeared to plead the Benazir Bhutto petition, which was made part of this case on Tuesday; therefore notice was issued to PPP general secretary.

The court observed before the last elections Benazir Bhutto had submitted an application and on that application a period of one month was given to the ECP for preparation new lists, but as the elections schedule were announced meanwhile, the ECP was allowed to hold polls on old lists. He said Benazir Bhutto had objected to the old voter lists and “now how this PPP’s democratic government can stop this process”.The CJP questioned how by-elections were conducted in the presence of bogus votes in the lists.

The court issued notices to 23 parliamentarian elected on by-elections, which were held at a time when the election commission was not complete. They were directed to appear in persons or through their lawyer on 10 January 2012.Taking up the petition of Overseas Pakistanis, the bench issued notices to ministries of foreign affairs, law and justice, overseas Pakistanis and to the ECP, directing them to file reply in two weeks. – Nation