LAHORE – MIAN DAWOOD - The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday admitted before the Lahore High Court that it didn’t prepare any list of the candidates found defaulters by the FBR, NAB and SBP.

The court was hearing a constitutional petition seeking implementation of Article 62 and 63 to stop ineligible candidates from contesting election and poor scrutiny of their credentials conducted by the returning officers in Punjab.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah on April 8 directed the ECP to furnish complete record of nomination papers, accepted or rejected, of candidates from Punjab who underwent mandatory scrutiny and verification from FBR, NAB and SBP.

ECP Management Information System Director Imran Ahmed Khan explained the credential verification process and told the court that no list had been prepared of the candidates who did not get clearance by NAB, FBR and the SBP.

He said that due to large number of candidates, the preparation of such list was taking time.

Petitioner’s counsel Azhar Siddique argued that under these circumstances there was a possibility that returning officers might have accepted nomination papers of defaulters.

He went on to add that nomination papers were poorly scrutinised by the returning officers and no attention was paid to keep a check on loan defaulters and tax evaders.

The court observed that the standing counsel and ECP representatives could not give any plausible explanation why ECP had not taken any steps to clarify or issue instructions to facilitate the ROs in this regard.

Quoting the ‘Handbook for Returning and Assistant Returning Officers’ presented by the ECP officials, Justice Mansoor observed that the book does not address the issue raised by the petitioner.

“The operational hiccup could be rectified if a direction was issued to the ECP to tabulate the aforesaid list and more importantly to tabulate the list of candidates whose cases were coming up in the appellate tribunals of high court,” the court said.

The court directed the ECP to present the copies of the reports issued by NAB, FBR, SBP and Nadra about candidates to all Appellate Election Tribunals (AETs).

The representatives of Nadra, NAB, FBR and SBP were also directed to ensure their presence during the full bench hearing so that the election disputes would be resolved expeditiously.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah told all the counsels engaged in the case that the chief justice had formed a full bench to hear this petition. The full bench will be headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan and will have Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi as its members. The bench will hear the petition today.

The full bench will also hear all election matters including writ petitions filed against the orders of the AETs of the high court.

The court directed State Bank of Pakistan Deputy Governor Muhammad Ashraf Wartha to continue his duties. His appointment was challenged in the same petition.

The court vacated a stay order issued against his appointment when the ECP told the court that the commission had no objection to his appointment.