The Supreme Court of Pakistan.—AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Wednesday, while hearing a case on the issue of irregularities in electoral rolls, remarked that door-to-door verification of votes should be conducted in Karachi.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, was hearing petitions filed by PTI chief Imran Khan and Jamaat-i-Islami complaining that votes of a sizeable number of people — said to be up to 3 million — living in Karachi had been registered in their native towns of Swat, Mingora, Mansehra and Attock, although they had been living in the city for 10 to 15 years.

During proceedings on Wednesday, the chief justice said that a number of complaints were being reported regarding electoral lists. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry suggested that help could be sought from the armed forces for verification of voters’ lists in Karachi. The CJ said that the law and order situation in Karachi may also be resolved if Rangers and Army personnel took part in door-to-door verification of votes. He added that political parties should also be kept away from the process of voters’ list preparation.

During the previous hearing in the case last week, the bench had allowed the MQM’s request to join the proceedings as a co-respondent and a party in the case after the petitioners did not raise any objection.

The court had asked the Election Commission (ECP) to find out how many votes had been registered on the same addresses provided in the electoral rolls of 2002, 2005 and 2007 in Karachi. The ECP was also asked to check if the votes of people were recorded according to their residential addresses; how many people had applied for shifting their votes outside Karachi; how many voters had been approached and under which law the votes had been shifted out of the city and the legal status of such a decision.

The Election Commission on the direction of apex court submitted report about the voters’ lists of Karachi.

The Supreme Court had asked the Election Commission to find out how many voters were verified and how many of them were de-listed or transferred back to their native towns.

Provincial Election Commission Sindh informed the court that 32,281 voters were transferred to their permanent addresses.

Counsel for Jamat-i-Islami, Rasheed A Rizvi told the court about a 120-yard house in Karachi where 653 votes had been registered.

Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) counsel, Senator Farooogh Nasim proposed that the court should refer the matter to Election Commission which should make a decision after consultation with all stakeholders.

The Chief Justice remarked the Army and Ranger’s services could be acquired as the court has already given a judgement in Workers Party case.

He observed that country’s economy could suffer if peace is not restored in Karachi.

The SC reserved its judgement in the case after hearing the arguments from all respondents.

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