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Law Minister Farooq H. Naek said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had enrolled as voters 4.3 million Pakistanis living abroad who possessed national identity cards. But they would be able to cast their votes in the constituencies where they had been registered, for which they must come to Pakistan. - File photo
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). - File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan disclosed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the federal government was not happy with an amendment it had proposed in the Representation of People’s Act, 1976.

The amendment seeks to appoint monitors to check violations of the code of conduct by contesting candidates on a daily basis for a constituency or a group of constituencies. It is to be made by inserting Section 104(b) in the act.

“They (federal government) have no problem with the rest of the amendments proposed but have shown reservations over the insertion of Section 104(b),” Munir Paracha, the counsel for the ECP, informed a three-judge bench which had taken up a case relating to implementation of its June 8, 2012, verdict.

The court had on Tuesday ordered the ECP to submit details of steps being taken for holding free and fair elections, including the proposed amendments it had sent to the government for legislation.

The commission has suggested about two dozen amendments to election laws.

Deputy Attorney General Dil Mohammad Alizai asserted that the government had no intention to create any hurdle in the conduct of free, fair and impartial elections. But he said it was an irony that on the one hand the ECP had sent its proposed amendments to parliament for adoption and, on the other, it had initiated the process on its own.

When asked about the government’s point of view, he said he had received the court’s order late and, therefore, could not seek timely instructions.

Bilal Hassan Minto, representing the Workers Party, pointed out that the amendment being proposed germinated from an earlier observation of this court during the hearing of the main case when it had stated that the ECP was empowered to check not only illegal actions relating to elections or corrupt practices but also to review Jalsas, Jaloos, use of loudspeakers, etc.

Hamid Khan, the counsel for Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, argued that the ECP had the power to make arrangements necessary to ensure that elections were conducted honestly, justly, freely and in accordance with the law and that corrupt practices were guarded against.

He said the proposed amendment through Section 104(b) was most vital by any standard because it would empower the commission to arrange elections to achieve the objectives in terms of Article 218(3) of the Constitution.

The court ordered the ECP to submit a chart, separately showing the portion which was to be implemented in pursuance of the court’s directives for which no legislation was called for and the directives, observations and improvements which the commission intended to achieve the objective under Article 218(3) of the Constitution.

No delay by any quarter should be made in the larger national interest, the court emphasised.