- Top judge gives electoral body until Eid to devise system that could assist expats in electoral process
- ECP official tells CJP Nisar ‘RTS system did not fail but slowed down due to high traffic’
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday to devise a method by which overseas Pakistanis could contribute in by-polls.
A three-person member, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, ordered the ECP to have such a system ready by Eid.
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob requested the bench that overseas Pakistanis should be able to vote in limited constituencies. The bench, however, rejected the plea, saying that they should be able to vote in all, not limited constituencies.
“Their votes should be received through postal ballot papers,” the bench remarked.
He told the bench that by-polls for 50 constituencies would be held between October 15-20 this year.
The CJP regretting that although overseas Pakistanis had wished to vote in the General Election, a mechanism to allow this to happen could not be devised in time.
The court was informed by Yaqoob that holding a by-poll on a single seat would set the national exchequer back by about Rs200 million.
Justice Nisar remarked that those who contest elections from more than one constituency should have considered the additional costs of holding by-polls. “The amount could have been used to build dams in the country,” he said.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial wondered whether candidates who won elections on multiple seats, leaving several seats vacant, could be directed to pay for the by-polls held on those seats.
The CJP asked the ECP secretary if politicians could be barred from contesting polls on more than one or two constituencies at a time, to which Yaqoob responded that the ECP had forwarded recommendations in this regard to the Parliament, but lawmakers had rejected them.
“The parliament is supreme, what can we say,” the chief justice remarked.
Yaqoob was questioned about the failure of electronic result transmission system (RTS) during general elections. He said that the system was “slow” due to large traffic as General Elections 2018 were the fifth largest in the world.
The case hearing was adjourned till August 15.
On Wednesday, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior had ordered an inquiry into allegations of rigging in the July 25 polls and the failure of the RTS.
Senator Rehman Malik had said that a parliamentary committee will look into the complaints regarding the failure of the RTS, adding that the new National Assembly speaker will constitute the committee to probe the allegations.
Rehman had also asked the National Database and Regulatory Authority (NADRA) to brief the panel on August 20 about the RTS failure on the election day.
Earlier this year, the apex court had asked the ECP and information technology (IT) experts to submit a report regarding online voting system for overseas Pakistanis by May 15.
Before July 25 polls, the NADRA officials had said that no decision had yet been made with regard to the online voting facility for overseas Pakistanis.
“Online voting for overseas Pakistanis can be tried in the by-polls,” the officials had said.