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Address by Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to District returning officers, returning Officers and assistant returning officers

Islamabad, April 04, 2013 (PPI-OT):

My Brother Judges of Supreme Court of Pakistan;
Chief Justice and Judges of Sindh High Court;
District Returning Officers;
Returning Officers;
Assistant Returning Officers:
Assalam-O-Alaikum!

Indeed it is a great opportunity for me to address to the District Judiciary which is back bone of the institution of the Judiciary. I may emphasis that a sustainable socio-economic development of country is interlinked with sound principles of democratic dispensation. We have a bitter history of establishing a true democracy as dictates by the Constitutions implemented from time to time.

2. The Supreme Court of Pakistan in many cases discussed the importance of free and fair election for strengthening democratic system in the country. In case of Workers’ Party Pakistan vs. Federation of Pakistan 1 the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that: Election process was one of the key aspects of democracy and was identified and regulated by the Constitution. Article 218 of the Constitution, constituted the Election Commission and empowered it to organize and oversee the election process and to ensure, inter alia , that it was conducted honestly, justly, and fairly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices shall be guarded against…… the Election Commission was under a direct constitutional obligation to exercise all powers vested in it in a bona fide manner, meeting the highest of standards and norms, therefore, as a natural corollary all discretionary powers were also to be exercised and tested against such standards..

1 PLD 2012 SC 681 3
3. As we know that arranging and organizing free, fair and transparent election is the constitutional responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan but to achieve this object in conducive manner, the Commission needs institutional support and strength. Therefore, the Judicial Officers have been deputed to perform functions for conducting forthcoming General Elections.

4. The role of District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and Assistant Retuning Officers is of prime importance for conducting election in free, fair and transparent manner. The Judicial officers have been chosen for this task of national importance, which will prove a paradigm shift in shaping the destiny of our country. The citizen of our country has immense expectations from the judicial officers at this critical juncture when the country is confronted with many crises. I am sure you will come up to these aspirations and raise the prestige of your institution.

The voters are one of the most important stakeholders for achieving the object of free and fair elections without knowing the qualification of the contesting candidates, they cannot chose their representatives. I quote unforgettable words of Sir Winston Churchill: At the bottom of all tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into a little booth, with a little pencil making a little cross on a little bit of paper – no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of the point.

5. As the process of filling of nomination papers and their scrutiny is underway, you will have to mindful of the fact, that voter has right to access to information with reference to the credentials of a candidate for whom he is going to vote. The nomination papers of the contesting candidates will be public for their information. Conducting free and fair election is scared task and public trust.

The induction of judiciary was meant that you will not influence by any political pressure, by any political party or politician. Similarly you will not support any political party or any political leader. I am sure that judicial officers will discharge their duty with full ability and fearlessly. The Supreme Court of Pakistan adjudged many cases on the aspect of access of voters to the credentials of the contenting candidate. The Court held in the case of Mian Najeeb-ud-Din Owaisi vs. Amir Yar and others 2 held that:

The voters who are about to elect their representatives are one of the most important stakeholders, therefore, to achieve the object of honest, just and fair elections, they would not constitutionally and legally allow a candidate to manage to sneak into Parliament without proving that he is qualified to represent them as such representative has to perform the noblest and honourable job of making policies and laws for the Nation.

6. The mode of procedure of the general election, the role of District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers are described in election laws but attention has to be drawn for some special measures to trim down the incidence of electoral abuses in order to reflect the exact result of the voters, so that no one may raise a finger on the credibility of election.

The conduct of free and fair election speaks highly of the sagacity and wisdom of the District Retuning Officers, Retuning Officers and Assistant Retuning Officers, however, they should also be mindful of the fact that all our efforts will go in vain for conducting transparent election, if steps are not taken for improving the law and order situation during polls by the executive functionaries.

7. Therefore, it is need of the hour for all stakeholders to join hands with the Election Commission of Pakistan for conducting free and fair election. In the past District Judiciary has achieved the targets set out by the National Judicial Policy in reducing the menace of backlog and expeditious dispensation of justice. Once again conducting free and fair election, your credibility and impartiality is under scrutiny. I am of firm opinion that you will rise to the occasion without being succumbing to any pressure and threats.

2 CMA. 1535/2013 and CMA. 1536/2013 8. A judicial officer is known for his honesty, integrity and professionalism. I am indeed proud of all of you, as undoubtedly you are capable to prove your credibility during instant general elections in your respective positions and Inshallah no stone shall be left unturned by all of you to achieve the object of free and fair elections, which consequently will lead this country towards prosperity, good governance and a peaceful abode of all at sundry, where their fundamental rights under the Constitution are fully protected.

Thank You

For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001
Email: pro_scp@yahoo.com

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