PML-N challenges vote reform ordinance in IHC



The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) challenged on Thursday the presidential ordinance authorising and binding the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to procure Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and enabling overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right to vote.

The ordinance, promulgated in May, was challenged by PML-N’s Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), praying the court to declare the changes to the country's electoral law as unconstitutional, illegal and null and void.

The petitioner further prayed that according to media reports, the government issued a one-page ordinance on May 9 without taking public representatives into confidence over this important legislation.

“The government has promulgated more than 54 presidential ordinances since September 24, 2018. Issuing ordinances has become a norm [in this country] which is depriving public representatives of the right to legislate,” the petitioner argued.

Read ECP decides to consult political parties on electronic voting machines

The petitioner further contended that the president's power to issue ordinances is for emergency purposes without which issuing a presidential ordinance would be tantamount to disrespecting the parliament.

“In the PMDC case, the IHC had clarified the circumstances under which a presidential ordinance may be issued,” the petitioner added.

In the petition, the president and the prime minister were made parties through the principal secretary, while the secretary election commission and secretary of law and justice were also among the parties.

On June 2, the ECP decided to consult all political parties on the use of EVMs, stressing the need for taking all stakeholders on board before taking any decision.

The ECP, which has been planning to improve the voting process, had convened a meeting to have a demo on EVM prototype from the science and technology ministry.

The ministry asked for more time from the commission for making the prototype, saying that work on the device would be completed by the third week of July, after which it will present the machine to the ECP.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)