ISLAMABAD: One of the most respected legal minds of the country, Abid Hassan Manto, laments that because of the inaction of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he had to move an implementation petition in the Supreme Court to enforce the judgement in the Workers Party petition to ensure free and fair elections.
While talking to The News, Manto said that it has become a habit of the administration to keep things as they are instead of rectifying them in the light of judgements passed by the courts and laws made by the parliament.
“Had the ECP implemented the Workers Party judgement then he would not have moved an application for its implementation in the apex court”, he maintained.
He added: “We have written letters to the ECP, sent briefs to it regarding the implementation of the judgement and even met with the officials of the ECP but all in vain. Therefore we have adopted a legal process”.
Minto held that the prime purpose of the Workers Party petition was the benefit of the masses in that election expenses should be strictly controlled and monitored so that the common person could also participate in the election. “We also pressed for making laws for compulsory voting to engage all the people in the electoral process”, Minto said.
He said that it was discussed in the petition that if a candidate fails to get 50 percent of the polled votes yet he is at number one then there should be a run-off election between the two top candidates so that a candidate with a real majority should be declared victorious.
He lamented that unfortunately the ECP has not read the judgement, so how can it get the gist of what has been said in it.
Regarding corrupt practices defined in the People’s Representative Act and Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution, Minto maintained that he considers Article 62 and 63 as the brainchild of Ziaul Haq therefore he has not mentioned these two articles of the Constitution in his petition.
It is worth mentioning that the SC on June 8, 2012 had directed the ECP in the Workers Party petition that in the following words: ‘The Representation of the People Act, 1976 vests in the Election Commission responsibilities and powers to, inter alia, regulate election expenses, provide for offences, penalties and procedures in case of breach of conditions relating thereto, resolve all election disputes, declare the election void, etc. The constitutional requirement to hold elections fairly, freely, honestly, justly and in accordance with the law obligates the Election Commission to exercise all powers vested in it to the best of standards and norms.’
“The Election Commission is empowered to check not just illegal actions relating to the election (violating the limits set for campaign finance, etc.) or corrupt practices (bribery, etc.), but is also empowered to review all election activities, including Jalsas, Juloos, use of loudspeakers, etc. for their effects on the standards of ‘fairness, justness and honesty’ that elections are expected to meet. The Election Commission is also empowered to take preemptive measures to ensure that the spirit of democracy and ‘fairness, justness and honesty’ of elections is fully observed. The Election Commission is, therefore, directed to take all necessary steps to ensure the same;
“The Election Commission must undertake monitoring of the election expenses from the day the holding of election is notified.
“A candidate must account for all the expenses immediately after the election is over. The Declaration Form should include the following further declarations: -
(i) To meet election expenses,
I have opened account No.xxxx withxxxx (name & branch of a scheduled bank) and deposited therein the amount permissible for election expenses.
(ii) All election expenditure shall be made out of the money already deposited in the aforesaid account.
(iii) No transaction towards the election expenses shall be made through an account other than the above account.
[Copy of bank statement will be annexed with the Return.];
Corrective measures are required to be taken by the Election Commission to ensure that the election disputes are resolved at the earliest.”