Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court Thursday observed that Parliament is the supreme institution and it has full power of making legislation which could not be usurped.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah made these observations while hearing the Sheikh Rashid Ahmad’s petition moved against elimination of some clauses in the nomination form for Senate Elections in the Election Act 2017.

During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel adopted before the court that the Parliamentarians enacted the law for not providing information related to their taxes and criminal cases.

He also added that the Parliament did not make consultation with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) while making changes in nomination papers.

However, Justice Athar observed that Parliament is supreme and the court could not order it to enact law after consultation with the ECP. He added that the power of Parliament to legislate could not be taken away.

Later, the court deferred the hearing till April 23 directing the parties to submit their written arguments in this matter on the next hearing.

In the petition, AML chief sought revival of the certain elections laws and provisions under which a Senate candidate must provide detailed information about his financial resources, expenses on election campaign, dual nationality, family details, details about any pending criminal cases and loans from the financial institutions.

Sheikh Rashid moved this petition through his counsel Barrister Sajeel Sheryar Swati and cited Secretary Law and Justice, Secretary Parliamentary Affairs and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) as respondents.

The chief of AML stated that through this petition, he is seeking indulgence of the court to come to the rescue of Pakistani voter and the democratic system of the country vis-avis the enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution for the protection of the voter’s freedom of expression and right to information when it comes parliamentary candidates.

He contended before the court that the nomination forms created under the Act, 2017 for candidates have omitted or modified numerous declarations and entries that had been present in the previous nomination forms used by the candidates in prior elections.

“The modification of entries relating to declaration of financial disclosure run contrary to Para (n) and (o) of sub Article (1) of Article 63 of the Constitution which disqualify a person from membership of Parliament if the candidate, his spouse or any of his dependents are defaulters of loan or government dues,” said the petitioner.

According to the petitioner, by removing the declaration relating to disclosure of any dual nationality or foreign passport, or recent visits to foreign countries, the candidates can now conceal any ties he may have with foreign country.

His lawyer Barrister Sajeel adopted before the court that less details have been sought from a candidate in the new form of Election Act 2017.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to declare that the right of the voter to have the detailed information regarding a contesting candidate is a fundamental right as guaranteed by Article 19 and 19-A of the Constitution and that such right cannot be curtailed and limited by a legislature fiat.

He added that the court may declare that the requirement for a candidate to furnish the necessary information is mandatory and the said requirement will be read into Act 2017 and the forms made there under to ensure the full protection of the fundamental rights.

The petitioner also requested the court to direct Secretary Parliamentary Affairs to use its powers under Article 218(3) of the Constitution to call for the necessary information about the particulars, antecedents and details of the contesting candidates through duly sworn affidavit and declare the same to be integral part of the nomination form.

He further requested to declare the provisions of section 60(2), 110(2) and 137 of Election Act 2017 (along with the forms made under Act 2017) to be against Article 19 and 19-A of the Constitution or alternatively, the aforesaid provisions be read in conformity with Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution.