ECP not exercising its powers to monitor election expenses: Iftikhar
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 (06:43 PST)
ISLAMABAD: The chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Tuesday observed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has not exercised its constitutional powers to monitor the expenditure of election campaigns.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez, took up a petition filed by Abid Hasan Minto on behalf of the Workers Party.
During the hearing, Attorney General of Pakistan Maulvi Anwarul Haq assured the court of submitting the government's written point of view over the matter during the course of the day (Tuesday). "We wish that there should be a culture of transparent elections in the country, in which there should be no projection of money," the CJP said.
Minto argued that heavy expenditures on elections were a main hurdle in flourishing of "real democracy" in the country. He said culture of investment in politics should be ended. He also said that difference of rich and poor in the political system should be curbed.
Justice Tariq Parvez said that the code of conduct for the judges had been improved through amendments. He said the parliamentarians could reform the election-expenditure system.
Meanwhile, the court directed Minto to conclude his arguments on Wednesday (today). The court also directed Hamid Khan, party in the case, to advance his arguments on Thursday.
Khalid Ranjha, counsel for the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, contended that there was no need of any legislation to curtail the election expenditures. He said that the problem would be solved automatically if the ECP ensured implementation of the existing election laws.
The petition also pleaded for barring political parties from holding huge rallies and displaying banners. The petition suggested that the political parties should conduct door-to-door campaign and the national TV should give them equal airtime to present their manifestos.
On February 21, the SC had put on notice 26 political parties, including the Pakistan People's Party and the PML-Nawaz, to come up with replies on the petition against heavy election expenditures. According to the ECP, only 26 political parties were currently "functioning" in the country.
Minto had told the court that some political parties wanted to submit their suggestions before the court in this regard. "Political parties have no objection on the reduction of election expenditure," he had said.