ISLAMABAD: Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan on Tuesday apprised the Supreme Court that they had decided to place the nomination papers on the web-site.
He said that it would enable the electors or the voters to obtain information and file objections in terms of the relevant provisions of the law, read with Article 19-A related to access to information.
He made a statement before a three-Judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that resumed hearing of a 2010 verdcit regarding initiation of action against those who were involved in corrupt practice of submitting bogus degrees at the time of getting of their nomination papers during the election of 2008.
The bench told the secretary ECP that a citizen, who was also an elector or voter, had a right to have access to the information in all manners with reference to credentials, antecedents etc; of a candidate for whom he was going to vote for electing him as his representative. Therefore, in terms of Article 19-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, it was the fundamental right of a citizen to have access to information about the candidate.
The CJ asked him to that besides making available the nomination papers on the web-site, a simple procedure should also be adopted, enabling the electors/voters, who intended to raise objections to obtain a copy of the nomination paper by making a request subject to payment of prescribed fee, etc.
The secretary ECP replied that in this behalf a mechanism and SOP should be issued because the object and the purpose of the ECP was to adhere strictly to the relevant legal provisions as well as Article 218(3) of the Constitution. To bench's query, the secretary ECP further said for the current process of the general elections, which had been scheduled for 11.5.2013, the Higher Education Commission had also been involved to attest the educational testimonials of the candidates without relying upon the educational credentials of the candidates.
He said it was the duty of the ECP under the command of the Constitution in terms of Article 218 (3) to organize/conduct honest, free and fair elections. The bench told him that it was not necessary that all the prospective candidates intending to participate in the general elections were holders of the degrees from the universities because there would be candidates, who claimed to be holder of a Sanad of Deeni Madaras, such Sanads have to be verified by the Institution known as Wafaq-Tanzeem-ul-Madaras.
The bench pointed out that the Government of Pakistan under Section 3 of the Federal Supervision of the Curricula Textbooks and Maintenance of Standards of Education Act, 1976 read with Notification No.D.773/76-JEA,(CW), dated 04.12.1976, has constituted the Inter Board Committee of Chairman (IBCC), which was the Competent Authority for determining of equivalence of the Certificates/Diplomas upto Higher Secondary level and as far as the Matriculate or Intermediate Certificates were concerned, those were to be attested by the respective Boards functioning in the provinces and federation respectively. The bench upon role of HEC observed that it would be its duty to verify or attest the educational testimonials of the universities and all institutions of Higher Education.
The bench noted in its order that it would be appreciated if a mechanism was adopted by the ECP, enabling the HEC to supervise the scrutiny/examination of the educational testimonials of the candidates without wasting time and making reference to different institutions.
"The HEC may adopt an effective procedure on the basis of which, the ECP without loss of time may get correct information about the authenticity of the Educational Testimonials," it added
The secretary ECP also filed a comprehensive report (CMA No.1557 of 2013) and stated that they had already undertaken an exercise to verify the educational testimonials of 1170 elected representatives i.e. Members of the National and Provincial Assemblies as well as the Senate, who participated in the General Elections in the year 2008 and the Election of the Senate subsequently.
He said that except in 69 cases the dducational testimonials of all of them were authenticated to be correct by the Higher Education Commission.
He further stated that the ECP itself examined the cases which were not authenticated and concluded that the educational testimonials of 27 of such representatives suffer from no deficiency.
However, out of the remaining 34 cases, references were made to the respective DPOs and the Courts and except for two cases, one by the Sessions Judge at Dera Alllahyar and the other by the Sessions Judge Dera Ismail Khan, rest of the cases had not been decided, he added. He prayed that two days time be granted to collect information about the progress in the remaining cases.
The bench issued a directive for sending of a letter to all the Registrars of the respective Provincial High Courts and the Islamabad High Court, to collect and furnish details from the Sessions Judges about pendency of such cases with reasons for not disposing of them so far.
Further hearing was adjourned till March 28.