- Petition contends that amendments were discriminatory and violated fundamental rights and merits
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Saturday fixed a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against amendments to the Elections Act, 2017 — which disallows overseas Pakistanis from voting electronically — for hearing on July 26.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah will hear the petition that the PTI had challenged in the apex court, contending that the amendments were “discriminatory” and “violative of fundamental rights and merits”.
The bill seeking electoral reforms was passed by the National Assembly and the Senate in May this year. The bill was passed by the joint sitting of parliament after President Dr Arif Alvi sent it back without giving his assent.
In the petition filed Saturday, the PTI chief had named the Federation of Pakistan through the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) as respondents.
He argued that the amendment made to Section 94(1) violated the fundamental right to vote of 10 million overseas Pakistanis. “Overseas Pakistanis send home remittances of approximately $30 billion annually, constituting approximately 10 per cent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product”.
Significantly, he stated, under Article 5(2) of the Constitution, overseas Pakistanis were subject to the laws of Pakistan and even to its tax laws under “certain circumstances”.
“To disenfranchise such a large group of Pakistani citizens, on the basis of their locality, by not granting them the facilities for the exercise of their fundamental right to vote, would be to violate the principles of freedom of association and equality of citizens enshrined in Articles 17, 25, and 51 of the Constitution,” the petition said.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022