The Supreme Court, while hearing a case regarding nomination forms on Wednesday, made it mandatory for all candidates contesting in the upcoming general elections to submit an affidavit that would require them to disclose the information omitted in the new forms.
The apex court had taken up applications by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and outgoing National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq against a Lahore High Court (LHC) order, declaring the new nomination forms void. The high court had ordered that the nomination forms be revised to include important information about candidates.
The LHC in its judgement had noted that the impugned forms did not contain the following information and declarations that were part of the 2013 nomination forms: educational qualification of the candidate, current occupation/job/profession/business of the candidate, dual nationality (if any), national tax number/income tax returns/ and payment of income tax, agriculture tax returns and payment of agriculture tax, criminal record (if any), assets and liabilities of dependents, declaration pertaining to election expenses, declaration pertaining to any default in loan or government dues by dependents, declaration that the candidate will abide by the ECP’s code of conduct.
The very next day, however, the top court suspended the LHC decision, upholding the nomination papers approved by the parliament via Elections Act 2017.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar during today's hearing asked the ECP to draft the affidavits containing columns for the missing information by midnight, reasserting that the court would not allow any delays in the elections scheduled for July 25.
"We need completely clean people [to contest] in the elections," Justice Nisar said, warning that contempt proceedings would follow if incorrect information was submitted.
He asked Ayaz Sadiq's lawyer what details about the candidates was he attempting to hide with the new forms and why the people were being kept in the dark about vital information regarding their candidates.
The chief justice noted that the court still wants the new forms mandated by the parliament to be used but also wants the omitted details to be included via an affidavit which every candidate would have to now submit.
Later in the day, the apex court approved the affidavit drafted by ECP and asked all aspiring candidates to submit the affidavit with Returning Officers till June 11, 2018.
The CJP also said that an implementation bench would be formed on how to conduct the elections and the court would itself ensure that election rules regarding expenditure and banner sizes are followed.
He noted that the date of scrutiny may have to be extended because of the additional affidavits.
The five-member larger bench raised questions on the maintainability of the petition filed by Sadiq but stopped short of giving a decision on the matter.
It noted that an intra-court appeal should have first been filed against the single member LHC decision rather than the SC being directly approached.