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SC irked by ECP inaction to enable overseas voting

March 14, 2013

A view of Supreme Court of Pakistan. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed outrage that no feasible plan, enabling overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right of vote in the forthcoming elections, was prepared except holding of meetings by the quarters concerned.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, over the issue of right to enfranchise expatriates, granted another opportunity to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for a solution till Friday.

The bench also directed the attorney general for Pakistan to consult the ministry of information and technology with regard to finding out a solution of e-voting for the expatriates.

Earlier, the bench expressed its displeasure with the ECP saying that it had not taken tangible steps for facilitating the overseas Pakistanis to participate in the electoral process.

The CJ asked Muhammad Munir Paracha, counsel for the ECP, to submit a certificate showing that they had registered all the voters abroad.

He said, “It appears no preparations have been made in this regard. If elections are called, there will be a constitutional bar upon registration of new voters. The ECP will have to take responsibility for depriving them all.”

He told Paracha that they could seek help from the government, which in itself wanted free and fair elections.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed questioned as to why the ECP was wasting time of everyone. If it was not possible, the ECP should give in writing. “There appears absolutely no application of mind,” he said while referring to submission of a report over the issue.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that with its posture, the ECP had deprived about 6 million voters of their right to vote. “You are interested only in their hard earned money and not in their votes,” he added.

The CJ observed that the court was interested only that an opportunity for the expatriates should be created to participate in the upcoming general elections.

Further hearing was adjourned to Friday.