While addressing to district returning officers, returning officers and assistant returning officers of eight districts at Punjab Judicial Academy here today, CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary said Indeed I am pleased to address the officers of the District Judiciary, who have been deputed to maintain and consolidate the democratic process in the country and to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan in conducting and organizing the General Elections 2013.
This responsibility has come on the shoulders of all of you as you have to play your role to the best of your abilities for realizing the dream of genuine democracy in the country.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan in many cases discussed the importance of free and fair election for strengthening democratic system in the country. In the case of Workers’ Party Pakistan Vs. Federation of Pakistan, the Supreme Court of Pakistan observed that :
Election process was one of the key aspects of democracy and was identified and regulated by the Constitution. Article 218 of the Constitution, constituted the Election Commission and empowered it to organize and oversee the election process and to ensure, inter alia, that it was conducted honestly, justly and fairly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices shall be guarded against….. the Election Commission was under a direct constitutional obligation to exercise all powers vested in it in a bona fide manner, meting the highest of standards and norms, therefore as a natural corollary all discretionary powers were also to be exercised and tested against such standards..
Of course, arranging and organizing free, fair transparent election is the constitutional responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan, but to achieve this Objective in transparent manner, the Election Commission needs institutional support and strength. The Judicial Officers have been deputed to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan to achieve objects laid down by the Constitution.
Judgments of Superior Courts have stressed upon the need for strengthening of democratic system in the country through the holding of fair and free elections.
In case of Imran Khan Vs. Election Commission of Pakistan, Supreme Court has observed that :There can be no escape from the fact that a free, fair, just and transparent election is the very heart of our democratic system, as envisaged by the Constitution. Such elections must not only be held in a fair, just and honest manner but also appear to be so; in order to inspire the confidence of the electorate.
Being District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers, your role is of paramount importance in conducting the forthcoming elections in a very free, fair and transparent manner according to law.
You must meet the expectations of the public in general and judiciary in specific and to utilize all your abilities to ensure transparent election in the country, as you are also representing the judicial institution of the Country. You should not be influenced by any of the pressure from any party or the politician. I am sure you will discharge this duty honestly, whole heartedly and without any favour to any one and would save the credibility of the institution as well.
As you know the conduct of General Elections requires high level of planning and its meticulous execution. It demands sagacity and wisdom on the part of District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and Assistant Returning officers. The future of the nation depends upon the outcome of the electoral process and the election of more capable and better candidates to represent the nation in the august legislative institutions, namely, National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies.
I would like to remind you that you are doing job in the supreme national interest, and I am sure that this new phase in our national history will bring the true representatives for our nation. Your role is very crucial and I am sure you will meet the expectations of the nation as well as of your own institution.
Here I may emphasize that you are not performing functions in individual capacity but as representatives of the institution of judiciary. Discharging your functions, as District Returning Officers, Returning officers and Assistant Returning Officers, you represent all of us, the institution of judiciary as a whole. A single mistake, if committed by any of you, it is likely to bring bad name for the institution of judiciary which is respected and has earned the trust and confidence of the nation.
I am confident, as a pater familias/ Chairman, NJPMC that your conduct, honesty, professionalism, legal acumen shall earn good name not only for you, the institution of judiciary but the whole nation as your performance shall enforce commitment, obligation to ensure fair, free, honest and transparent election, followed by duly elected representatives to govern this nation. The process of election represents the pledge of more than 18 crores people that they will be governed by their chosen representatives.
We as Judges are bound by the Constitution and we have to enforce it in all the circumstances, as per its command. In conclusion, let me say that you must discharge your duty honestly and without any fear or favour, and you are bound to succeed. We will commend your dedicated services for a noble cause, the nation will be thankful and Allah Almighty will reward you for your commitment and efforts to uphold the Constitutional mandate of organizing free, fair and impartial elections.