ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday declared mandatory the submission of an affidavit along with electoral nomination papers.
The Lahore High Court (LHC), on June 1, had ruled that nomination forms of the electoral candidates did not seek necessary information and declarations such as details on educational background, criminal record, and dual citizenship. The court had ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to again add the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution to the nomination papers.
The Supreme Court , however, on June 3 had suspended LHC's verdict that nullified nomination forms of electoral candidates for the upcoming general elections.
A five-member bench, presided by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing the petition filed by National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.
Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the federal government had delayed the matter in the high court for seven months. He said that the apex court had announced the verdict on the case in 2011.
"Why are you embarrassed in providing information to the public?" Chief Justice Nisar remarked. "Why is the speaker [Sadiq] hesitant about representatives of the public disclosing their information. Is there some information that Ayaz Sadiq wants to conceal?"
The petitioner's lawyer then responded that Sadiq did not want to keep any information, to which Justice Nisar replied, "What is the fuss all about then?"
The chief justice remarked that the Lahore High Court's verdict could be upheld. "We want to see which information is it that the NA Speaker is unwilling to disclose," he said.
"Is it in the NA Speaker's jurisdiction to challenge the verdict of a court?" the chief justice observed. He noted that according to the Article 218 of the Constitution of Pakistan, conducting the elections was the responsibility of ECP. "Any issue pertaining to the electoral nomination papers is also covered by Article 218."
"Why are the powers of ECP being reduced," Chief Justice Nisar said, adding that the apex court will uphold the LHC's decision.
The larger bench then ordered ECP to submit the content of the affidavit to the Supreme Court within an hour's time.
Beginning from June 4, ECP has continued to receive the nomination papers, in compliance with the approved format in the Election Act 2017. However, along with the nomination papers, each candidate also has to submit an affidavit for Article 62 and 63.
The affidavit includes details about holding foreign passports, dual nationality, and any criminal cases against the candidates.
On Saturday, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had announced his decision to challenge LHC's verdict. He had maintained the stance that all the parties in the parliament had approved the Elections Act 2017 and any changes to the nomination forms could delay the elections.