ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday instructed aspiring candidates to submit an affidavit, detailing their assets, along with their nomination papers.
A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing of a petition filed by former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq challenging a Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict rejecting nomination papers, drafted by a parliamentary committee, for violating Article 62, 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
The LHC, on June 1, had ruled that the nomination form of candidates does not include mandatory information and declarations as required from the aspiring lawmakers by the Constitution and law, including details such as their educational background, criminal record or if they are dual nationals.
The court had ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that all mandatory information and declarations are part of the revised Form A, the nomination form for election to an assembly or the Senate, and Form B, the statement of assets and liabilities. However, the top court, on June 3, suspended the LHC’s order, asserting that the upcoming general polls will be held on July 25.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the ECP was also instructed during the hearing to prepare the affidavit. Contesting candidates will be bound to submit the affidavit with the required information within three days.
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?”
“People must know the integrity and varsity of the contesting individuals,” said the CJP.
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 LHC’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 bench remarked that it will constitute a special bench on “how to conduct elections”. Justice Nisar said that as “custodians of the Constitution”, the apex court wanted transparency in the process. He further said the court shall seek information by exercising section 3 of Article 184.
The larger bench then ordered ECP to submit the content of the affidavit to the Supreme Court within an hour’s time.