Directions of the Supreme Court for implementation on Election Laws in Workers’ Party Pakistan Case (PLD 2012 SC 681) Dated 8th of June, 2012
81. In pursuance of the above, we hold and direct as under: –
(a) All the election laws be strictly implemented by the Election Commission in the discharge of its constitutional mandate under Article 218(3) of the Constitution, Representation of the People Act and other laws/rules;
(b) The Election Commission is empowered to check not just illegal actions relating to the election (violating the limits set for campaign finance, etc.) or corrupt practices (bribery, etc.), but is also empowered to review all election activities, including Jalsas, Jaloos, use of loudspeakers, etc. for their effects on the standards of ‘fairness, justness and honesty’ that elections are expected to meet. The Election Commission is also empowered to take preemptive measures to ensure that the spirit of democracy and ‘fairness, justness and honesty’ of elections is fully observed. The Election Commission is, therefore, directed to take all necessary steps to ensure the same;
(c) The Election Commission must undertake monitoring of the election expenses from the day the holding of election is notified. A candidate must account for all the expenses immediately after the election is over. The Declaration Form should include the following further declarations: –
(i) To meet election expenses, I have opened account No.______________ with _____________________ [name & branch of a scheduled bank] and deposited therein the amount permissible for election expenses.
(ii) All election expenditure shall be made out of the money already deposited in the aforesaid account.
(iii) No transaction towards the election expenses shall be made through an account other than the above account. [Copy of bank statement will be annexed with the Return.];
(d) The Election Commission must hold meetings with the candidates and apprise them of the relevant laws/rules, receive from them statements of expenses on weekly basis by engaging election staff and carry out inspection at random at different places. All transactions relating to election expenses should be entered into with GST registered firms/persons;
(e) To facilitate the voters, the number of polling stations may be increased appropriately throughout the country so that the polling stations are not at a distance of more than two kilometres from the place of residence of voters. In this behalf, the Election Commission may take into consideration the suggestions made at the bar, including the provision of official transport to the voters, but in no case, shall it allow the candidates to hire/use private transport on election day. Where arrangement for transport is made by the Election Commission, the routes of such transport should be widely advertised in the print and electronic media for information of the general public;
(f) As regards the handing over of Perchis to the voters at election camps, the Election Commission must take steps to provide the requisite information to the voters by other means as discussed hereinabove. Therefore, to ensure strict compliance with section 84 of Representation of the People Act, 1976 in letter and in spirit, establishing of camps near the polling stations should be banned forthwith. The Election Commission may manage to dispatch extracts from the voters’ list in the name of one or more persons living in a house at least 7 days before the polling day by post, or to save the postage by annexing such extracts with any of the utility bill;
(g) Only such election campaign activities ought to be permitted, which on the one hand fulfil the purpose of the election campaign, and on the other are within the reach of the common man. The petitioners have recommended certain activities, namely, door-to-door campaign, manifesto, canvassing on State television and radio, and candidate – voter interaction/debates, etc. ROPA and other relevant laws have held these activities to be permissible in the eyes of the law. These, therefore, ought to be encouraged by Election Commission on the basis of their merit;
(h) To ensure fair and transparent election, if need be, instead of involving the employees of the Provincial Governments, the employees of Federal Government/autonomous organizations/agencies, including the armed and paraarmed forces may be instructed to carry out stipulated functions at the polling stations;
(i) As regards the introduction of computerized balloting, it is informed that the Election Commission has already undertaken work on it. We, therefore, expect that effective steps will be taken in this regard at an appropriate time;
(j) To achieve the goal of fair, free, honest and just elections, accurate preparation/revision of electoral roll is immediately required to be undertaken by the Election Commission through credible and independent agencies.
Accordingly, we direct the Election Commission to undertake door-to-door checking of voters’ lists and complete the process of updating/revision of the electoral rolls by engaging Army and the Frontier Corps to ensure transparency, if need be;
(k) Corrective measures are required to be taken by the Election Commission to ensure that the election disputes are resolved at the earliest. The Election Commission may also consider establishing a panel of lawyers well conversant with election laws at the State expense to provide free legal services to marginalized segments of society;
(l) The Election Commission is obliged to ensure that all elections witness a substantial participation of the electorate, therefore, all necessary steps must be taken to make voting compulsory in Pakistan as early as possible;
(m) In the ‘First Past the Post’ system of election, the winning candidate does not necessarily receive an absolute majority of all votes cast, therefore, such a candidate does not command the majority of the votes polled. As such, the system of ‘First Past the Post’ violates the principle of majority. The Election Commission may explore ways and means to introduce appropriate system of election including ‘run off election’ and ‘none of the above options’, in the light of the discussion made hereinabove, to ensure true representation of the people and rule of the majority; and
(n) The Election Commission is empowered to frame rules to ensure that the elections are conducted justly, fairly, honestly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices are guarded against. There is unanimity of views on various suggested courses of action.
Therefore, we direct the Election Commission to frame rules and issue instructions to provide legal sanction to these measures and implement the same to achieve the ultimate objective of fair, free, just and honest election.