Wednesday Sep 15, 2021
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday ruled that the Parliament's legislation on the electronic voting machine (EVM) was mandatory, as the government, Opposition, and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are at loggerheads over it.
The high court's ruling came as it announced the reserved decision on the voting machines.
The IHC said that it was not unusual to use the EVMs during elections, as several countries were using them. But, the court noted that the Parliament needed to debate and legislate in this regard.
The court said conducting free and fair elections is the constitutional responsibility of the ECP, and it is also the responsibility of the body to stop rigging from taking place in elections.
A day earlier, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Senator Shibli Faraz had said a peaceful and transparent election through EVMs was crucial for improving the electoral system.
Talking to a private news channel, he said the government was following a comprehensive programme for promoting information technology and modern knowledge.
The federal minister said that it was the need of the hour to use technology for improving the country's electoral system.
EVMs would reduce the human interface and make the electoral system more efficient, free, and credible, Faraz added.
Shibli, last week, had also announced that a person who can hack the locally manufactured electronic voting machine (EVM) will get Rs1 million.
"We will challenge hackers to hack the electronic voting machine and if they can hack it, we will give them an award of Rs1 million," the science minister told journalists.
Last week, officials of the ECP had walked out of a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs after federal minister Azam Swati levelled serious allegations against the commission of taking bribes.
A livid Azam Swati accused the ECP of taking money from companies that make electronic voting machines, said a source present in the meeting.
The Opposition senators said that Swati cannot accuse a constitutional body of taking bribes, and asked the senator to provide proof to back his claim.
Swati then added that such institutions conduct all elections through rigging and should be burned down. At this, the ECP officials walked out in protest.
Following Swait, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had said that it seems the ECP has "become the headquarters for Opposition parties" and the chief election commissioner is "acting as their mouthpiece".
Speaking during a press conference in the federal capital alongside Swati and Adviser to the Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, Fawad said that no one is satisfied with the ECP because "it comes up with strange logic."
The ECP, reacting to Fawad and Swati's allegations, decided to issue notices to them.
CEC Raja on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the ECP where the matter of allegations levelled by the federal ministers was discussed.
The meeting's participants condemned the allegations "in the strongest possible terms" and rejected them.
The commission decided to seek proof backing the accusations by Swati, which were levelled during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee for Parliamentary Affairs and another held the night prior at the President House, and those by Chaudhry which were levelled during a press conference.