ECP to approach apex court against LHC, BHC verdicts on nomination papers
Caretaker Prime Minister retired Justice Nasirul Mulk on Saturday directed the Attorney General Office in the law ministry to file an appeal against the Lahore High Court’s decision in which it had ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to revise the nomination forms.
In its verdict released on Friday, the LHC had ruled that the nomination form to be submitted by candidates for upcoming general elections does not include mandatory information and declarations as required from the aspiring lawmakers by the Constitution and law, including details such as their educational background, criminal record or if they are dual nationals which were excluded by the parliament via Elections Act 2017.
At the moment it is not clear whether the federal government will file a review petition before the LHC or the appeal would be filed before the Supreme Court, seeking to stop implementation of the LHC decision.
Mulk has issued the directives to ensure holding of general elections on time. Soon after taking the oath of his office on Friday morning, the caretaker PM had stated in categorical terms that the elections would be held on time and delay would not be allowed.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan announced that recent verdicts by the Lahore and Balochistan High Court’s would be challenged in the Supreme Court following an emergency meeting of the commission on Saturday.
The ECP, following a session chaired by the election commissioner, prevented the returning officers from accepting nomination forms until June 4, adding that fresh directions would be issued after the SC decides on ECP’s appeals.
Additional Secretary Akhtar Nazeer, announcing the commission’s decision, vowed that the general elections would be held on July 25 as scheduled. However, while answering a question, he said that the commission had the right to amend the schedule by a day or two.
He clarified that the delay in receipt of nomination papers would be absorbed by the two to three days room available in the current schedule and hoped that the SC would decide on the appeals soon. The official also said that the commission had asked for clarification from the governments that had posted officers recently without informing the ECP in violation of the rules.
Criticising the LHC’s decision, outgoing National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq announced he would also file an appeal to declare the decision null and void.
“The petition was filed in December, 2017 and the whole country knew that the National Assmebly’s tenure would end on May 31,” Sadiq said in Lahore. “But when does the judgement arrive? It arrives when NA completes its tenure and the NA which would have decided had it gone to it was never given a chance to do so.”
“Secondly, the decision arrives after the election schedule was announced. What is the purpose and meaning of the decision coming after election schedule being announced?” he asked, adding that he was going to meet his lawyers to discuss the matter.
He said that the Senate elections happened with the same nomination papers in place and, to his knowledge, the Islamabad High Court recently rejected an identical petition last month. He added that the decision to simplify nomination papers had been taken by all parties in the parliament. Sadiq said that he had been in contact with the PPP and is also trying to contact other political parties as the Elections Act was passed by consensus of all political parties.
He said that he would also appeal the courts to ensure elections are held according to the schedule announced by ECP, on July 25. Earlier, the commission held an urgent meeting to review the Lahore High Court’s annulment of changes in nomination papers and Balochistan High Court’s rejection of delimitation of eight constituencies in Quetta.