ISLAMABAD: Though the process of filing nomination papers for the general elections commenced on Monday under the modified schedule, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) still believes that a meaningful scrutiny of nomination papers will not be possible in the absence of key declarations omitted from the nomination forms by parliament.

An official of the ECP told Dawn that the essentially required declarations and other information deleted in the new nomination forms included declaration on outstanding loans obtained from any bank, etc, in the name of candidates or their spouses or dependents, declaration on default in payment of government dues or utility charges, lists containing names of spouse and dependents, declaration about companies owned by the candidates or any dependants, declaration on pending cases of criminal offences, declaration of educational qualification, declaration of present occupation, national tax number, declaration of income tax paid during the last three years, declaration of travel abroad during last three years, declaration of agricultural income tax paid, declaration of important contribution made by the candidates for the benefit of candidates’ constituents, if elected previously, declaration of sum paid to or received from any political party that awarded the ticket to candidate, declaration to abide by the code of conduct issued by the ECP, declaration of net assets of current and previous financial year and difference between the two, value of assets, declaration of foreign passport details, declaration of personal expenditure and a statement on oath that the candidate is a citizen of Pakistan and he/she does not possess any other nationality.

Sherry Rehman says nothing significant has been changed in nomination forms

He said under Section 62(1) of the Elections Act any voter may file objections against the candidature of a person who has been nominated or whose name has been included in the list submitted by a political party for election to an assembly before the returning officer within the period specified by the commission for the scrutiny of nomination papers.

He, however, said Section 62(7) bars the returning officer while scrutinising the nomination papers of a candidate from asking any question which has no nexus with the information supplied in the nomination paper or does not arise from the objections raised by any person or from information received by him under this section.

Section 62(8) provides that the declaration submitted under Section 60(d) with respect to statement of assets and liabilities can only be questioned if there is tangible material to the contrary available on record. Now the returning officer will be restricted to scrutinise the nomination papers on the basis of the information provided form A — a generalised statement that the requirements of qualification and disqualification clauses are met with.

He said June 8 is the last date for filing of nomination forms and the apex court is yet to give its final word, following which the ECP will decide how to move.

Sherry Rehman, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, however, defended the nomination forms prepared by parliament and claimed that nothing significant had been changed.

She pointed out that the national tax number did not pertain to individuals anymore and the Federal Board of Revenue could easily track individuals via their computerised national identity cards.

“When you testify that you are not disqualified under any of the items under Articles 62/63 as on the form then that includes the fact that you are not disqualified by having acquired another nationality.

This also means you are not a defaulter of government dues, including bank loans, taxes, utility bills, etc.

This also means you have not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude for a period not less than two years,” the PPP leader argued.

She said any other information like educational qualification had nothing to do with constitutional disqualification.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2018