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The process of elections cannot be separated from supremacy of Constitution and the rule of law: Chief Justice of Pakistan

Islamabad, April 05, 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!

It is a matter of great honour and privilege for me to address judicial officers, who have been deputed for very important task of national importance. Your role is very vital in the process of forthcoming elections. Free, fair and transparent elections are pre-requisites for democracy. They are a crucial variable in institutionalizing democracy, which can only flourish and prosper if elections are held as per dictates of the Constitution and law.

The process of elections cannot be separated from the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, which stipulate that the election be held in free and fair manner. In case of failure, credible democratic structure cannot be established which may result in further political deterioration of the system. After completion of tenure of Assemblies, we are heading towards general elections. It is in our great national interest that the elections are held in an organized way and free, fair and transparent manner. As you know that the schedule for the general elections has been announced and 11th May, 2013 is to be the polling day inshallah.

It is the participation of every individual which would create the change. They will use their right of vote to choose their representatives, which is provided in the Objectives Resolution. Right to vote is very important, here I remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, he said and I quote:

“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the user.”

Every eligible individual has the right to vote irrespective of his caste or creed. It is responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold the general elections in a very transparent manner thus voters would be able to exercise their right.

The people have the right to choose their representatives but during scrutiny it must be made sure that the candidate is a right one as desired by the Constitution of Pakistan. Old notions for participating in the elections in order to gain the power by hook or crook or use of force or deceitful manner are to be guarded against. It is only then the right to vote would create a change in our country.

The fruits of socio-economic development cannot be achieved in absence of democratic governance, because the development of the country is very much dependent on the proper representation of its people through the chosen representatives. The Supreme Court of Pakistan adjudged many cases on the aspect of access of voters to the credentials of the contesting candidates. The Court held in the case of Mian Najeeb-ud-Din Owaisi vs. Amir Yar and others[1] 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.

As you all know that under Article 218 of our Constitution it is obligatory for the Election Commission of Pakistan, to organize and conduct the elections and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that elections are conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against.

The Election Commission needs institutional support and strength for performance of its Constitutional duty. The judicial officers are deployed in the election process in the national interest. You are the face of judiciary on whom people pose great confidence. Now it is for you to meet this challenge with untiring efforts.

In the recent past so many judgments have been delivered by the apex court in the election matters. I am sure they will provide you insight to follow and handle the issues being raised from time to time. In one of a case [2] on the importance of free and fair elections we have observed that:

There can be no escape from the fact that a free, fair, just and transparent election is the very heart of our democratic system, as envisaged by the Constitution. Such elections must not only be held in a fair, just and honest manner but also appear to be so; in order to inspire the confidence of the electorate.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Being District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and Assistant Retuning Officers you have to perform your duties as provided under the law for effectively conducting the election. I am sure that by working in a dutiful manner, you will not only be able to meet the challenge of conducting election in accordance with law but also earn good name for your institution. Here I must say that in the famous landmark judgment of Anita Turab[3], Supreme Court of Pakistan has provided protection to the civil servant of this country.

They are required to perform duties as required by them as civil servants in accordance with the law and following the code of conduct and not be influenced by the illegal or unlawful orders of the political bosses. But you as Judicial Officers are required to stand as a shield against all unjust or unfair means being employed to get favourable election result.

Your job is to stand firmly by the Constitution and law which ordain the holding of election in an organized and disciplined way and free, fair and impartial manner. Nobody be allowed to interfere in the electoral process or abuse it to his advantage. Our endeavor must be to ensure that election are held in a peaceful atmosphere and conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner.

Thank you very much.

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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