Imran challenges Elections Act Amendments in Supreme Court

Amendments would undermine fair elections, says former premier

Picture source - Screengrab ABC News

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has approached the Supreme Court challenging the amendments to the Elections Act, 2017.

The electoral reforms bill, passed in May, disallowed overseas Pakistanis from their right of vote through electronic means.

In the petition submitted today, the PTI chairman has contended that the amendment to Section 94(1) violated the rights of 10 million overseas Pakistanis. He said that disallowing overseas Pakistanis from voting would undermine the conduct of “honest, just and fair elections”.

In his petition, the PTI chairman named the Federation of Pakistan through Ministry of parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and national database and Registration Authority (NADRA) as respondents.

He also stated that under Article 5(2) of the constitution, overseas Pakistanis were bound to laws of Pakistan and even tax laws under “certain circumstances”.

He argued that to deprive such a large group of Pakistani citizens on basis of where they were located, by not giving them the fundamental right to vote would be violative of the principles of freedom and association and equality given in Articles 17, 25, and 51 of the constitution.

The petition has claimed that outcomes in 186 constituencies could be changed on basis of the vote of overseas Pakistanis. It has also urged the ECP to approve funds necessary for development of a new i-voting system.

The incumbent coalition government had passed the electoral reforms bill in the lower and upper houses in May that was then forwarded to the president of Pakistan two times for final approval. However, President Arif Alvi had sent the bills back to government both times.

Under the amendments made in Section 94 of the Election Act 2017, ECP may conduct Overseas Pakistanis’ i-voting as a pilot project in the by-elections whereas under amendments made in Section 103 of Election Act, pilot projects with EVMs and biometric verification system would be conducted by the ECP in the by elections.