SC seeks ECP reply against bar on Ahmedis' listing on electoral rolls
Friday, March 1, 2013 (03:43 PST)
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has sought a concise statement from the Election Commission of Pakistan over the six-year-old plea against the enforcement of Conduct of General Elections (Second Amendment) Order 2002 that prohibits listing of Ahmedis or Qadianis on general electoral rolls.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard the application filed by a citizen, Kanwar Idress, against insertion of new articles 7B and 7C, Chief Executive's Order No. 7 of 2002, which excludes the name of Ahmedis or Qadianis from the general electoral lists. It must be noted that former president General Pervez Musharraf and his military government had promulgated the Conduct of General Elections (Second Amendment) Order 2002.
Under this order, a non-Muslim or Ahmedi cannot register to vote. Any Ahmedi or Qadiani found on the official electoral rolls would be summoned by the Revising Authority. Their appearance before this authority would be mandatory within 15 days of receiving notification. The person shall then be required to sign a declaration agreeing to the Finality of Prophethood on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). If the person refuses to sign the declaration, he or she shall be deemed non-Muslim.
The name of that person shall then be removed from the electoral rolls and would be added to a supplementary list of voters in the same electoral area as non-Muslim. In case the voter does not turn up despite service of notice, an ex-parte order may be passed against him/her. During the hearing, the court has asked the counsel for the Election Commission of Pakistan, Munir Paracha, whether the order regarding the exclusion of Ahmedis or Qadianis was still applicable.
Upon this, Paracha requested the bench to give him some time to take instructions from the relevant authority of the commission. "We have to be very careful as it is a very sensitive matter," the chief justice said in his remarks. He also said that the court would not say anything without knowing the present status of this order. Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed also questioned whether any Pakistani citizen was disallowed from voting on the basis of religion.
Meanwhile, applicant Kanwar Idress told the bench that he had already met with the chief election commissioner (CEC) regarding this matter, but the CEC had told him that the ECP could not do anything in this regard. The applicant said that exclusion of Ahmedis or Qadianis' name from the general electoral rolls would be discriminatory as well as a violation of Article 25 of the constitution because other minorities' names were included in the lists.
The ECP counsel said that this was his 21st appearance in this case since 2007 and now this matter had been transferred from SC Karachi registry to Islamabad. He requested the bench to transfer this case in Karachi, saying that it would be difficult for him to keep coming again. Upon this, the chief justice observed that the court has taken up his case and would give a decision very soon. Issuing a fresh notice to the attorney general of Pakistan in the case, the court adjourned the hearing until March 11.