The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday announced that it will approach the Supreme Court against recent verdicts by Lahore and Balochistan high courts that put a question mark on the fate of the upcoming general elections.
The Lahore High Court (LHC), in its verdict released yesterday, had ordered the ECP to revise nomination forms to include information such as educational background and criminal record of candidates which was excluded by the parliament via Elections Act 2017.
Earlier, the Balochistan High Court (BHC) had declared delimitation of eight provincial constituencies in Quetta district null and void. Both the decisions had brought the holding of timely polls into question.
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.
Ayaz Sadiq to challenge LHC decision on nomination forms
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.