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Election Commission of Pakistan refuses to take control of data agency
Publication Date : 20-12-2013
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has rejected the interior ministry’s proposal for placing the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) under its administrative control for three months to the extent of verification of voters’ thumb impression.
“The commission, after an in-depth consideration, has observed that the powers and functions of the commission envisaged by the constitution
and the law do not seem to provide for exercising the power or issuing direction regarding verification of thumb impressions or for that matter any other action being undertaken by any institution or executive authority of the federation or of a province, specially when such exercise or action is being carried out or done as a result of an electoral activity conducted by the commission itself,” a letter sent to the ministry said.
The letter sent by ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said that only a neutral arbiter, such as a court or judicial tribunal, could take cognisance of any dispute arising out of an electoral activity.
The commission said verification of thumb impression by Nadra through its optical scanning system was a kind of forensic analysis and the report produced by it would be considered as forensic evidence and examined by the election tribunal which issued orders for verification. The commission said it was not supposed to become a party in such matters for ‘obvious reasons’.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said on Sunday that the government had decided to place Nadra under administrative control of the ECP for three months to the extent of election-related matters. He said the decision had been approved by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The following day, Interior Secretary Shahid Khan called ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad to convey the government’s decision, but he was told to send the proposal in writing which could be placed before the commission for a decision.
A letter was sent by the ministry to the Election Commission the same day. The letter signed by Interior Ministry’s Joint Secretary Aftab Alam said: “In keeping with the provisions of Article 218(3) and 220 of the Constitution and the government’s unequivocal declaration that all possible assistance and cooperation will be provided to the Election Commission of Pakistan in the matter of verification of thumb impressions of voters, and in order to ensure complete transparency in such verifications, the federal government intends to entrust/vest in Nadra, for a period of three months, all functions/powers relating to verification of thumb impressions, to be performed/exercised, as the case may be, in accordance with the directions of the Election Commission of Pakistan and relevant provisions of the constitution and law, without further reference to the federal government.”