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ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Tuesday submitted its entire record related to the proceedings on the Elections Act 2017 to the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Arshad Mehmood Kayani submitted the record to Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui during the hearing of a petition against the amendment to the declaration about finality of prophethood made by election candidates in their nomination papers.

However, the IHC bench said that details about the senators who had attended the 267th session of the Senate on Sept 22, 2017 were not available in the record. The bench directed the DAG to ask the secretary of the Senate to provide the missing details.

On March 5, the court had directed the federal government to provide information as to when the decision to enact Elections Act 2017 was taken and by whom. “Who prepared the draft bill (particulars of the committee concerned comprising parliamentarians / experts/ secretaries etc) and who accorded approval to the draft bill? On which date the cabinet decided to present the bill in the National Assembly and on which date it was tabled in the assembly session? Whether the bill was carried out after some deliberations or without this exercise? What was the number of MNAs in attendance when the bill was tabled and who voted for and against the bill? When the bill was presented before the Senate after approval from the National Assembly? Whether any amendment was proposed in the draft bill in the two houses, and if so, by whom, and whether proposed amendment was carried or not? Who were the members who supported the amendment and who opposed it? What was the result of proposed amendments? When was the final amendment introduced and approved by the parliament?”

Justice Siddiqui had directed the secretaries of the National Assembly and Senate to cooperate with the DAG and provide details in sealed envelopes.

However during Tuesday’s hearing, the record of National Assembly proceedings about the Elections Act was not submitted to the court and the DAG sought time till Wednesday (today) in this regard.

The Federal Investigation Agency also sought time till Wednesday (today) to file a report about the travel history of 6,000 persons who had obtained fresh passports after change of their religion from Islam to Ahmadiyya.

However, census data of population of Ahmadis from 1947 to 1988 was submitted before the court.

The IHC bench said that though it had been told that the data of the 2017 census was still being compiled, tentative data might be provided to the court.

It directed the petitioner Maulana Allah Wasaya to ensure his appearance in court on Wednesday (today) as he was a recognised scholar and the court would ask him certain questions.

Justice Siddiqui also sought assistance from amicus curiae, including Professor Dr Hafiz Hassan Madni of the Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Punjab; Dr Mohsin Naqvi, former member of the Council of Islamic Ideology; Professor Dr Sahibzada Sajid ur Rehman, member of the council; Mufti Muhammad Hussain Khalil Khel from Karachi and Akram Sheikh, Dr Aslam Khaki and Babar Awan, all advocates.

Earlier, the court was told that as per the 1998 census there were 286,212 Ahmadis in Pakistan while according to the recent record of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), more than 167,000 persons had been registered as Ahmadi. Nadra also told the court that 10,205 persons had changed their religious status from Muslim to Ahmadi and 6,001 of them had obtained new passports after the change of religion.

Almost all the scholars, who had appeared before the court, told it that concealing real faith was a crime, cheating and fraud with the state.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2018