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Judgment on Imran Khan v/s Election Commission of Pakistan

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN

(Original Jurisdiction)

 

PRESENT:

MR. JUSTICE IFTIKHAR MUHAMMAD CHAUDHRY, CJ

MR. JUSTICE GULZAR AHMED

MR. JUSTICE SH. AZMAT SAEED
CONST. PETITIONS NO.31/2011, 45/2007, 111 & 123/2012.

 

Imran Khan.                                                                       (in Const.P.31/2011)

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.                                          (in Const.P.45/2007)

Syed Munawar Hassan and others.                          (in Const.P.111/2012)

Saleem Zia.                                                                         (in Const.P.123/2012)

         … Petitioners.

VERSUS

Election Commission of Pakistan and others.       (in Const.P.31/2011)

Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan.              (in Const.P.45/2007)

Federation of Pakistan and others.                          (in Const.P.111 & 123/2012)

         … Respondents.

For the petitioner:

(in Const.P.31/2011)

Mr. Hamid Khan, Sr. ASC

Mr. Waqar Rana, ASC

Mr. M.S. Khattak, AOR.
For the petitioner:

(in Const.P.45/2007)

Sardar Khurram Latif Khan Khosa, ASC

Mr. Arshad Ali Chaudhry, AOR
For the petitioners:

(in Const.P.111/2012)

Mr. Rashid A. Razvi, Sr. ASC
For the petitioner:

(in Const.P.123/2012)

Dr. M. Shamim Rana, ASC with

Mr. Saleem Zia, Adv.

For the applicant:

(in CMA No.4840/2012)

Dr. Muhammad Farogh Naseem, ASC

For the Federation:                                                         Mr. Dil Mohammad Alizai, DAG

For Election Commission:                                             Mr. Muhammad Munir Paracha, ASC

Syed Sher Afghan, DG (Elections)

Mr. Muhammad Nawaz, Law Officer.

For NADRA:  Mr.                                                               Mehmood A. Shaikh, AOR

Mr. Muzaffar Ali, DG.
Date of Hearing:                                                              28.11.2012

JUDGEMENT

Sh. Azmat Saeed, J.- The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 envisages  a  parliamentary system of government. It provides for a Parliament (National Assembly and the Senate of Pakistan) for the  Federation  and the Provincial Assemblies for  the  provinces. The people  are  to be governed by their chosen representatives  and the  Fundamental  Rights  including Article 17 guaranteed under  the Constitution  are  to be enforced.  It may be advantageous to reproduce the said Article, which reads as under: –

Freedom of association:

(1) Every citizen shall have the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order or morality.

(2) Every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, shall have the right to form or be a member of a political party, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan and such law shall provide that where the Federal Government declares that any political party has been formed or is operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, the Federal Government shall, within  fifteen days of such declaration, refer the matter to the Supreme Court whose decision on such reference shall be final.

(3) Every political party shall account for the source of its funds in accordance with law.

2. A comprehensive mechanism  is provided to facilitate the people to choose their representatives in accordance with the Constitution and the laws on the subject regulating different aspects of the election process including Articles 218 and 219 of the Constitution and the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974. Under Article 218(3), it is the duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan to organize and conduct the elections and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law,  be  it a general election or a bye-election.  Whereas under Article 219 of the Constitution, the Election Commission of Pakistan is charged with the duty of preparing electoral rolls and revising the same  periodically so as  to enable all the eligible voters to exercise their right of franchise.

3. It  may be  pertinent to  mention  here  that  Constitution Petition No. 45 of 2007 was filed by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (late) under  Article 184(3) of the  Constitution with the prayer that the respondents  (ECP & others)  be directed to update the computerized/electronic voters lists to encompass the names of all persons entitled to vote in terms of Article 51(2) of the Constitution and  the condition of CNIC for  registration of  eligible  voters may be declared as without lawful authority and of no legal effect.  The said petition came up for hearing before this Court on 10.08.2007, when an order was passed, relevant para of which is reproduced herein below:-

“2. It may be noted that the Election Commission has submitted parawise comments, in which a schedule for the additional entries in the computerized electoral roll 2006-2007 has been provided, according to which a process has commenced from 3rd August, 2007 and it will end on 20th December, 2007 and in this way 140 days are required to complete the same.

We have minutely gone through the same. The time being consumed to complete certain steps is on the high side. We  believe that such exercise can be completed within a minimum period because the matter is quite simple as on the one hand there is electoral list of the voters prepared for the election of 2002, according to which the number of voters is 71.86 million whereas in the electoral list which has been presently prepared, number of voters has been shown to be 5,21,02,428. There is approximately a difference of about  2  crores. Therefore, the Election Commission after minusing (sic) the votes, already recorded, has to check only in respect of the genuineness or otherwise of the remaining votes and for that purpose, they can provide forms, etc. to those voters whose names have not been recorded by taking out the names from original list, through post-offices or any means within a minimum time and by increasing the number of staff twice or thrice this exercise can be completed within a period not more than 30 days. However, further improvement in such exercise can also be made by the Commission with a view to minimize the period of recording the names of the left over voters in existing electoral list and to ensure that there must be fair and transparent elections, which are scheduled to be held in the near future.”

4. The case was then taken up on 04.10.2007 when the representative of the ECP stated that in pursuance to the directions of this Court, the exercise has been completed and 27 million voters have been added in the electoral rolls. It was further stated that there were a total of 80 million people who were eligible for exercising the right of vote but some more time would be required to complete the printing and publication  of the electoral lists  in accordance with  the rules. Accordingly, ECP was directed to complete  the  printing/publishing exercise up to 25.10.2007 whereafter the list would be placed on the website of the Commission.

5. On 07.04.2011, Mr. Imran Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf filed  Constitution Petition No. 31 of 2011 with, inter alia, the prayer that the ECP be directed to prepare fresh electoral rolls eliminating all bogus votes and introducing and incorporating the new eligible votes  who can be verified from the  relevant database and record of NADRA. And to include the names of the voters, as per their addresses given in the CNIC. The petition was heard from time to time and necessary orders were passed. On 04.07.2011, the Secretary ECP appeared before the Court and  stated  that a  Proforma  has been prepared allowing the voter to exercise his/her option to vote either at the permanent place of residence or where he/she is temporarily residing on account of his/her place of work, etc., and the option  so exercised by him/her shall be printed in the voters’ list.

6. In the meanwhile, Workers Party Pakistan filed Constitution Petition No. 87 of 2011 with, inter alia, the prayer that the prevailing electioneering practices involving wealth, power and influence are against the mandate of the  Constitution and are an impediment to a free, fair, just and honest elections on a level playing field, which needs to be remedied. The said petition was disposed of by means of judgment reported as  Workers’ Party Pakistan v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2012 SC 681) wherein it was held and directed, inter alia, as under: –

“(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.”

7. Thereafter, Constitution Petition No. 111 of 2012 was filed on behalf of Syed Munawwar Hassan, Amir Jamat-e-Islami and 2 others with, inter alia, the prayer that the electoral rolls prepared by the ECP which are tainted with irregularities and errors in the Province of Sindh especially Karachi be declared illegal, unlawful and that the respondents be directed to revise the electoral rolls and to correct the same on the basis of the present address of the voter in the city where he is residing.  Mr. Saleem Zia, Secretary General, Pakistan Muslim League (N) Sindh filed Constitution Petition No. 123 of 2012 with an identical prayer. On 22.11.2012, Dr. Farogh Naseem, learned ASC filed CMA No. 4840 of 2012 on behalf of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for impleadment as a co-respondent and giving him a  right of audience on behalf of the intervener, which was allowed on the same day. All these matters have been heard together.

8. We have heard M/s Hamid Khan, Rashid A. Razvi, Dr. Muhammad Shamim Rana, Dr. Farogh Naseem, Sardar Khurram Latif Khan Khosa, Muhammad Munir Paracha, learned counsel for the parties and Mr. Dil Mohammad Alizai, learned DAG.

9. The main grievance raised before us by the learned counsel for the petitioners is that the judgment of this Court in the case of Workers’ Party Pakistan (supra) has not been complied with in its letter and spirit by the  ECP, inasmuch as, there have been gross errors and irregularities in the preparation of  the  Electoral Roll  of Karachi wherein a large number of voters have been disenfranchised and their names have been removed from the Electoral Roll.  In response to the above, a rather evasive reply has been submitted on behalf of the Election Commission which is of not much significant, in the presence of the material, placed before us, including a comparative statement of  the  Electoral  Roll, wherein 663 electors have been registered to be the residents of House No.E-43, PECHS, Block-II, Karachi, allegedly constructed on a 120 square yards. And  the statement made by Dr. M. Shamim Rana, ASC that names of a large number of voters have been deleted from the Electoral Roll of Karachi and shifted to different parts of the country arbitrarily including his own vote. To  further  demonstrate his pleas, he has  also  referred to relevant material filed by him through CMA  No.4830 of  2012.  Mr. Hamid Khan, Sr. ASC contended that according to credible information, while revising the voter lists, as per commitment of the Secretary, ECP, made in the order dated 4.7.2011, only 10% voters were approached by the Electoral Staff.

10. Learned counsel for the petitioners  further  alleged that approximately  50% votes of the electors of Karachi have been shifted to other parts of the country and in their places, names of unverified voters have been inserted, which is likely to  lead to rigging  in the forthcoming elections as a result whereof it would not be possible to fulfill the command of the Constitution of ensuring right of franchise a fundamental right of  each actual/real voters, whose names stand verified for the last 2/3 general and bye-elections and the object of holding free, fair, honest and just election will be defeated unless the names of voters are re-verified on a door-to-door basis in accordance with the Constitution and the Law through their CNIC.

11. Sardar Khurram Latif Khan Khosa, learned counsel in Const.P.No.45/2007 has  urged that  an identical complaint was highlighted in the petition filed by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (late), the then Chairperson of PPP invoking jurisdiction of this Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, now  represented  by Mr. Jehangir Badar, Secretary General of the Party. He has  reiterated the assertion made by Mr. Jehangir Badar, Secretary General, Pakistan Peoples Party while appearing before this Court on 21.11.2012 that the Electoral  Roll  of Karachi prepared by the  ECP  contains gross  errors/violations, which need to be rectified/corrected as prayed for by the learned counsel appearing on behalf of other petitioners. He has referred to the order of this Court dated 16.08.2007 passed in Const. Petition No.45/2007,wherein the ECP was directed to complete the exercise within a period of 30 days from the date of the said order, in the light of the observations made in the order dated 10.08.2007 reproduced hereinabove.

12. Dr. Farogh Naseem, learned counsel for applicant-MQM, on the other hand, has contended that the exercise of preparation of the Electoral Rolls in Karachi has been completed and until the elections are announced, they can be varied and altered at the behest of the individual voter only, and not on the request of  any  of the  political parties and there is no ground for fresh  revision of Electoral Roll nor will it be just.  In this regard, he has placed reliance  upon the cases titled as  Lakshmi Charan Sen and others v. A.K.M. Hassan Uzzaman and others (AIR 985 SC 1233) and  C. Lakshmi Narain v.  The Chief Election Commission (AIR 1997 Madras 125).

13. Mr. Muhammad Munir Paracha, learned counsel appearing for the Election Commission, on the other hand, has contended that the exercise of preparing the Electoral Roll of Karachi has already been completed and that the Election Commission has filed its reply in which it has explained its position. He has contended that annual revision of the Electoral Rolls of Karachi at this stage is not permitted by law and such revision can only be carried out in the next year, as the law requires annual revision of the Electoral Rolls. He, however, contended that individual grievances, if raised in accordance with law, can always be entertained and redressed until elections are announced. Mr. Dil Muhammad Alizai, learned DAG has adopted the arguments of Mr. Muhammad Munir Paracha, learned ASC.

14. Adverting first to the objection raised by Dr. Farogh Naseem, learned counsel appearing on behalf of MQM that the alleged complaints made by the petitioners are individual in nature and mechanism of redressal of such individual complaints is provided for in the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 and the Rules framed thereunder and the petitioner-political parties have no locus standi to agitate the matter in these proceedings. In the instant case, Article 184(3) of the Constitution has been invoked and suffice it to say that with the passage of time, the scope of jurisdiction of this Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution has steadily evolved and expanded with its contours now well established through the successive judgments handed down by this Court. It has been declared that  proceedings under Article 184(3) are not limited to adversarial proceedings to be initiated by a wronged litigant seeking redressal of his individual grievance.  Likewise, the rule of  locus standi  has  also not been held applicable to the cases involving questions of public importance with reference to enforcement of the Fundamental Rights, especially in the domain of Public Interest Litigation to ensure a meaningful protection of the Rule of Law to all citizens, as has been laid down in judgments reported as Miss Benazir Bhutto v. Federation of Pakistan and another (PLD 1988 SC  416),  Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif v. President of Pakistan and others (PLD 1993 SC 473), Dr. Akhtar Hassan Khan and others v. Federation of Pakistan and others (2012 SCMR 455)  and Muhammad Yaseen v. Federation of Pakistan through Secretary, Establishment Division, Islamabad and others (PLD 2012 SC 132)].

15. As regards  the  objection to the maintainability of the instant petitions under Article 184(3) of the Constitution in the context of elections and the rights of the political parties to agitate for the due fulfillment of the Constitutional and legal requirements in respect thereof, this Court in its judgment reported as Workers’ Party (supra) has held as under:-

“33. The scope of jurisdiction of this Court  under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by now is fairly settled in a plethora of case-law, therefore, there is no necessity to recapitulate the constitutional provision or to refer to the entire case-law for the purpose of deciding the question of maintainability of the instant petition. This Court, in the cases of Ms. Benazir Bhutto v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1988 SC 416), Haji Muhammad Saifullah Khan v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1989 SC 166) and  Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif v. President of Pakistan (PLD 1993 SC 473) has already held that the right to form, or be a member of a political party guaranteed under Article 17 of the Constitution subsumes the right to participate or contest in the election, and to form government if successful. The petitioners have vehemently averred that the impugned practices violate the fundamental right of the citizenry at large guaranteed by Article 17 read with Article 25 of the Constitution. None of the respondents has rebutted the above assertion of the petitioners.

Accordingly, the instant petition is held to be maintainable.

34. It may be mentioned here that the instant petition falls in the public interest litigation, which is not adversarial but inquisitorial in nature. In the cases of Watan Party v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2011 SC 997) and All Pakistan Newspapers Society v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2012 SC 1) referred to by Mr. Farogh Naseem, ASC, this Court has held that it has the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon a case if it falls within the ambit of inquisitorial proceedings. It is also well settled that while entertaining a direct petition under Article 184(3), this Court has ample power to examine the varies of laws, rules or regulations. Reference in this regard has been made to the cases of  Wukala Mahaz Barai Tahafaz Dastoor v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1988 SC 1263),  Farooq Ahmad Khan Laghari v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1999 SC 57),  Jalal Mehmood Shah v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1999 SC 395),  Liaquat Hussain v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1999 SC 504),  Dr. Mobashir Hassan v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2010 SC 265) and  Muhammad Mubeen-us-Salaam v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2006 SC 602).”

Reference in this behalf may also be made to the judgment of this Court reported as  Mubasher Lucman v. Federation of Pakistan and others (PLD 2011 SC 775). Thus, in the light of the law laid down in the aforesaid cases, it is clear that this Court, under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, not only  has the jurisdiction to pass appropriate orders  in the cases involving questions of public importance with reference to enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution but is also empowered to ensure  fulfillment of the command of  the  Constitution  of holding  elections honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law. Hence, these petitions are held to be maintainable and the grievances raised therein are justiceable by this Court in the present proceedings. The objection raised by Dr. Farogh Naseem, learned ASC appears to be misconceived and the judgments relied upon by him irrelevant in the facts and circumstances of the case.

16. We have considered the submissions of the learned counsel for the parties on merits and have also gone through the material placed before us, and also the law relied upon by them.

17. It is the command of the Constitution under Article 218(3) that the Election Commission of Pakistan is charged with the duty to ensure free, fair and just elections in the country,  be it  a general election or bye-election.  Whereas, under Article 219 of the Constitution, the Election Commission of Pakistan is also commanded to revise the electoral list annually, object of which  is none else, except that free and fair elections are held.

18. Before dilating upon the laws on the subject, we consider it appropriate to reproduce herein below the number of constituencies of the National Assembly and the Provincial Assembly of Karachi Division, as per the gazette of Pakistan,  June, 2002, from where electors are required to choose their representatives as per the mandate of the Constitution:-

KARACHI DIVISION

 

No. and Name of NA

Constituencies

NA 239 Karachi-I to NA-258

Karachi-XX (20 Seats)

No. and Name of PA

Constituencies

PS-89 Karachi-I to PS-130

Karachi-XLII (42 Seats)

It is equally important to note  that following number of voters in Karachi have been brought on final Electoral Roll, 2012:-

Name of

District

Male Female Eunuch Total
Karachi Central 897443 712916 5 1610364
Karachi Central 897443 712916 5 1610364
Karachi East 1129217 901466 6 2030689
Karachi South 603258 464342 3 1067603
Karachi West 856085 560314 12 1416411
Malir 426562 300314 5 726881
Total 3912565 2939352 31 6851948

19. The Election Commission of Pakistan filed a reply vide CMA No.4654/2012, wherein it has admitted that the process of revision of Electoral  List pertains to the month of April-May, 2011. Extract from the reply is reproduced herein below:-

“8. Above-mentioned reasons enforced ECP and NADRA to align their databases with respect to addresses according to New Census Blocks. For this purpose, a Proforma was devised to capture and link current location of families with newly created Census Blocks. These Proformas were filled by enumerators during Housing Census  – 2011 conducted in April-May 2011 countrywide.”

20. The grievance raised primarily  with reference to Karachi through the  instant Constitution Petitions must necessarily be examined in the above backdrop.  It is the case of the Election Commission of Pakistan that door-to-door verification in Karachi has in fact been effected in respect of approximately 82% of the population.

This fact  is  vehemently disputed by the learned counsel for the petitioners, who have contended that such door-to-door verification was not carried out in Karachi, which fact is obvious from the discrepancies and flaws identified by them by way of examples including the rather strange and physically impossible situation of over 600 voters having been registered, as residents of a house measuring 120 Sq. Yards.

21. The primary basis for the Electoral List  of  the Housing Census carried out in April-May 2011. Even after the preparation of the Final Electoral Roll, the necessity of a further door-to-door verification was conceded by the Election Commission in para 23 of the above-said CMA, which is reproduced as follows:-

“23. Voters having different current  and permanent address can be re-verified through subsequent door to door verification along with fresh CNIC registrations.”

22. It may be observed that  Karachi has a peculiar background, which includes  a  serious law & order situation, detailed stock of the same has been taken by this Court in the case of Watan Party v. Federation of Pakistan  (PLD 2011 SC 997). In this judgment categorical directions were made for delimitation of the constituencies of Karachi in the following terms: –

“Further observe  that  to avoid political polarization, and to break the cycle of ethnic strife and turf war, boundaries of administrative units like police station, revenue estates, etc. ought to be altered so that the members of different  communities may live together in peace and harmony, instead of allowing various groups to claim that particular areas belong to them and declaring certain areas as NO GO Areas under their fearful influence. Subsequent thereto, on similar considerations, in view of relevant laws, delimitation of different constituencies has also to be undertaken with the same object and purpose, particularly to make Karachi, which is the hub of economic and commercial activities and also the face of Pakistan, a peaceful city in the near future. The Election Commission of Pakistan may also initiate the process on its own in this behalf.”

We believe that so far, the  above directions have not been implemented, therefore, Election Commission owes an explanation to this Court. Needless to observe that the above directions were made in the backdrop of the  said  case  and  was discussed at length. Another relevant portion from the said judgment is reproduced hereinbelow: –

“26. It is noteworthy that the law enforcing agencies have detected a torture cell during hearing  of the case at Karachi and succeeded in getting video clips of the most heinous, gruesome, brutal, horrible and inhuman acts of the criminals, who are found cutting throats of men and drilling their bodies. But, now it is informed that more such cells have been detected in different parts of Karachi.

27. As far as the injured or wounded persons are concerned, they are countless in number in all the disturbed areas of Karachi where different political parties have got dominant population on the basis of the language being spoken by them. It may be noted that the objective of above-noted brutal and gruesome incidents is to terrorize the citizens of Karachi and keep the entire society a hostage.”… … …

“92. An identical situation was prevailing in Malaysia and that Government with full commitment and sincerity had also collected illicit arms from the criminals. Similarly, this task can be completed in our country as well; if there is honest commitment on the part of the law enforcing agencies but in the instant case without depoliticizing the police, positive result apparently seems to be an uphill task, however, to ensure peace in Karachi, certain steps will have to be taken. The law enforcing agencies will have to be de-politicized as well as for recovery of illicit arms effective measures will have to be taken under a proper programme to be launched by the Government. As far as the question of presence of 2.5 million aliens in Karachi is concerned, it is more alarming compared to the activities of the criminals involved in heinous crimes, like target killing, etc. This aspect of the case would reveal that the presence of such persons is not only a factor for increase in crime; but at the same time without proper registration, they are a burden on the national economy, inasmuch as their presence can give rise to so many other administrative problems, including obtaining of National Identity Cards by them. If they have succeeded in this venture and claim themselves to be citizens of Pakistan and have also succeeded in registering their names in the electoral list, it would be tantamount to depriving the actual electorate from choosing their representatives, inasmuch as due to their presence, areas have expanded considerably, which directly affects the delimitation  of the constituencies meant for holding elections of the Provincial Assembly and the National Assembly, therefore, the Government should take immediate action against them in accordance with law, namely, the Foreigners Act. NADRA and the Police must undertake a careful cleansing process of such people and NADRA must have separate records and computer files based on proper and cogent evidence. NADRA and police should co-operate in Karachi through an intensive drive to identify foreigners, block their NIC cards after due process of law and special teams should be appointed and dedicated for this job by DG NADRAT and IGP so that this can be completed in the course of next one year or so. Then the law must take it own course in each case. This must be given high priority.”

23. The apprehensions of all the petitioners cannot be brushed aside in view of the reasons (directions) quoted above. It is also to be noted that the above judgment is intact as it has not been challenged by filing review petition. Thus a concluded judgment, furnishes strong reasons to hold that in such a situation when there were NO GO Areas, in Karachi; police has been politicized (as per statement of IGP, 30% to 40% of the Principal Law Enforcing Agency, has been politicized);political parties, barring a few have militant groups; life and property of the citizen is not protected; etc.,  the  process of preparing  of Electoral Rolls  or revising the same transparently was not likely, as alleged by the petitioners. Furthermore, in a situation where life and property  of the people  is not protected, how electors would come forward to co-operate with the staff of election department for such purpose, and there is every likelihood of illegalities having taken place.

24. Viewed in the above perspective, the discrepancies in the Electoral Roll of Karachi identified by the learned counsel for the Petitioners by way of example, examined in conjunction with the admitted position of the Election Commission that a door-to-door verification of the entire residents of Karachi has not been carried out leads to the conclusion that the Electoral Rolls of Karachi do not inspire confidence and the possibility that a significant number of residents of Karachi may have been  disenfranchised cannot be  ignored. An accurate Electoral Roll is a sine quo non for the holding of a free, fair and transparent election, which is not only the command of the Constitution but also  a  Fundamental  Right of the citizens, which appears to have been compromised qua the residents of Karachi.

25. It may not be out  of  context to mention that this Court while deciding the case of Workers’ Party Pakistan (supra) has already highlighted the importance of preparation of the electoral list to ensure free and fair elections and has held as under: –

“67. Fair, free, honest and just elections are since qua non for strengthening of democracy. To achieve this goal, accurate preparation/revision of electoral roll is immediately required to be undertaken by the Election Commission through credible and independent agencies. In so doing, the  convential ways and means of merely depending upon NADRA alone or other similar bodies must be discontinued forthwith. 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, if need. ……”

26. It may be noted that Article 219 of the Constitution, which is an enabling provision, contemplates an annual  revision of Electoral Roll subject to law including the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 and the Rules framed thereunder. It is an admitted position that the matter  of the revision of the  Electoral Roll  was communicated to this Court by Secretary, Election Commission. The relevant portion of the order dated 4.7.2011 reads as under: –

“Mr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan stated that:-

(i) In view of the report of NADRA following categories of unverified voters have been removed from the database of NADRA:-

Category of unverified Voters Voters Count
Voters without any Identity Number 15,028,808
Voters with Invalid CNIC 2,140,015
Voters with Duplicate CNIC entries 2,491,090
Voters with Duplicate MNIC entries 6,469,310
Voters with MNIC not registered with

NADRA

11,056,775

 

Total unverified Voters: 37,185,998

 (ii) In the place of above removed voters, 36 million voters have been entered into the database and verification of both the categories is to be carried out by visiting/approaching the house of each voter by the representative of the Election Commission door to door. This exercise shall commence from 18th of July, 2011 and is likely to be completed on 16th of August, 2011.

He added that further procedure of publishing/displaying these lists shall be carried out according to law and in this respect, a comprehensive plan has already been chalked out, copy of which has been placed on record. According to him, the whole procedure is likely to be completed by 16th of December, 2011 and thereafter the lists  shall be handed over to NADRA for scanning and printing.”

This process was undertaken in the month of May, 2011 but the final notification has been issued in May, 2012. Thus, we have to refer to the meaning of Annual, which could mean, after one year or during a year, from time to time. For reference the meaning and definition of “annual” is given below: –

Annual Meaning and Definition

The World Book Dictionary, Volume One

1.            Coming  once  a year:  Your Birthday is an annual event.

2.            In a year; for a year:  What is his annual salary?

3.            Lasting for a whole year; accomplished during a year:  The earth makes an annual course around the sun.

4.            Living but one year or season:  Corn and beans are annual plants.

The Major Law Lexicon

Pertaining or relating to a year; yearly; as the annual growth of a tree; annual profits; annual rents; relating to the events or transactions of a year; as, an annual report.

The word ‘annual’ means something which is reckoned by the year.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

1.            (n.) A thing happening or returning yearly; especially  a literary work published once a year.

2.            (n.) A Mass for a deceased person or for some special object, said daily for a year or on the anniversary day.

3.            (a.) Performed or accomplished in a year; reckoned by the year; as, the annual motion of the earth.

4.            (a.) Lasting or continuing only one year or one growing season; requiring to be renewed every year; as, an annual plant; annual tickets.

5.            (a.) Of or pertaining to a year; returning every year; coming or happening once in the year; yearly.

an·nu·al  ( n y – l) adj.

1.            Recurring, done, or performed every year; yearly: an annual medical examination.

2.            Of, relating to, or determined by a year: an annual income.

3.            Botany Living or growing for only one year or season.

n.

1.            A periodical published yearly; a yearbook.

2.            Botany A plant that completes its entire life cycle in a single growing season.

[Middle English annuel, from Old French, from Late Latin annu lis, ultimately from Latin annus,year; see at- in Indo-European roots.]

Collins English Dictionary

Annual
adj

1.            occurring, done, etc., once a year or every year; yearly an annual income

2.            lasting for a year an annual subscription

n

1.            (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Botany) a plant that completes its life cycle in less than one year Compare perennial [3] biennial [3]

2.            (Communication Arts / Journalism & Publishing) a book, magazine, etc., published once every year

[from Late Latin annuālis, from Latin annuus yearly, from annus year]

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary

annual ( n y – l)

Adjective

Completing a life cycle in one growing season.Noun

An annual plant. Annuals germinate, blossom, produce seed, and die in one growing season. They are common in environments with short growing seasons. Most desert plants are annuals, germinating and flowering after rainfall. Many common weeds, wild flowers, garden flowers, and vegetables are annuals. Examples of annuals include tomatoes, corn, wheat, sunflowers, petunias, and zinnias. Compare biennial perennial

Webster’s 1913 Dictionary

1.            Of or pertaining to a year; returning every year; coming or happening once in the year; yearly.

The annual overflowing of the river [Nile]. –Ray.

2.            Performed or accomplished in a year; reckoned by the year; as, the annual motion of the earth.

A thousand pound a year, annual support. –Shak.Const.

3.            Lasting or continuing only one year or one growing season; requiring to be renewed every year; as, an annual plant; annual tickets. –Bacon.

Annual (n)

1.            A thing happening or returning yearly; esp. a literary work published once a year.

2.            Anything, especially a plant, that lasts but one year or season; an annual plant.

3.            A Mass for a deceased person or for some special object, said daily for a year or on the anniversary day.

In the case of  National Insurance Company v. Life Insurance Corporation (AIR 1963 SC 1171) it has been held that the word “annual” must be given its full meaning. By the word “annual” is meant something which is reckoned by the year. In the case of Prem Kevalram Shahani v. Government of Pakistan (PLD 1989 Karachi 123) it has been held that a plain reading of Article 218 shows that its clauses (1) and (2) provide the constitution of the Commission and its composition, whereas clause (3) provides its duties, namely, that it shall be the duty of the Election Commission in relation to an election to organize and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against, whereas Article 219 lays down the duties of the Commission, namely, preparing electoral rolls for election to the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies and revising such rolls annually, organizing and conducting election to the Senate or to fill casual vacancies in a House or a Provincial Assembly and appointing Election Tribunals. 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. The provisions of Article 219 of the Constitution and the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 and rules framed thereunder must necessarily be interpreted in manner so as to achieve the said object. Consequently, Election Commission must fulfill its obligation cast upon it by Article 218 of the Constitution of ensuring the holding free, fair and transparent elections and to achieve such purpose seek assistance, if necessary from the Executive Authorities in the Federation in this behalf which are obliged to render such assistance by virtue of Article 220 of the Constitution.

27. There is no denial of the fact that free, fair, honest, transparent and just election is demand of the day as the Parliamentary system of the country is strengthening day by day. Therefore, all  eligible  citizens  have a fundamental right  of franchise, which must be protected by issuing appropriate directions.

28. In the above circumstances, it is clear that the Electoral Rolls of the city of Karachi are required to be  revised by the Election Commission in exercise of powers conferred upon it under Article 219 of the Constitution read with Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 to achieve the object, which is to be ensured by the Commission in terms of Article 218 of the Constitution. Thus, the Election Commission of Pakistan is directed to carry out proper and complete door-to-door verification in Karachi so as to ensure that no voter is disenfranchised or dislocated and all other discrepancies are rectified as early as possible.In view of the peculiar security situation in Karachi highlighted hereinabove such verification must be carried out by the Election Commission with the help and assistance of Pakistan Army and the FC.

29. For the foregoing reasons, Constitution Petitions No.45 of 2007 and 111  &  123 of 2012 are  disposed of in the above terms. Constitution Petition No.31 of 2011 is adjourned to a date in office.

Chief Justice

Judge

Judge

Announced in open Court on _________,

Islamabad.

‘Approved for reporting’

Judge

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