He said that polling station within a radius of two kilometers will be established and if not feasible facility of transport would be provided to the voters.
He informed that the training programme of capacity building of District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and other staff have also been provided in the election process, adding, the Election Commission will chalk out a comprehensive practical training programme in consultation with the High Courts.
The meeting was attended by Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan, Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Chief Justice High Court of Balochistan, Justice Mushir Alam, Chief Justice High Court of Sindh, Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court, Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court and Secretaries of Election Commission of Pakistan and National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee.
ISLAMABAD: National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC) on Saturday decided to provide services of adequate number of judicial officers to the Election Commission for their appointment as District Returning Officers and Returning Officers in the forthcoming general election.
The Committee in its special meeting, which was held here under the Chairmanship of Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry after deliberations agreed to relax the restriction in supreme national interest on involvement of judiciary in the election process only for one time during the forthcoming general election.
The meeting was held to consider the request of Election Commission of Pakistan regarding appointment of judicial officers as District Returning Officer and Returning Officer in the light of comments offered by the Elections Commission on the points raised by the Committee.
The Committee observed that since the administration of justice is the prime responsibility of judiciary; therefore, the judicial officers so appointed as District Returning Officer and Returning Officer should do their routine judicial work and should perform election duties in extra hours in morning and evening so that the litigant should not sufff.
The Committee asked the Election Commission to facilitate the polling staff and provide all possible logistic and financial support to the District Returning Officers and Returning Officers to meet immediate expenditure and contingencies during the election process.
The Committee observed that the Presiding Officers and Polling Staff have a key role in the election process; therefore, it was recommended that their deployment should be made carefully to eradicate the possibility of their involvement in the corrupt practices.
The Committee recommended that the Code of Conduct may be translated and published in local or regional languages for easy comprehension.
Earlier, the Committee observed that overall responsibility of holding election in a free and fair manner is the Constitutional mandate [Article 218 (3)] of the Election Commission of Pakistan and to achieve this object, the Election Commission needs institutional support and strength.
In his introductory remarks, the Chief Justice and Chairman, NJPMC Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that no one can deny the fact that holding of free and fair election is pre-requisite for sustainability of democracy which ensures prosperity through good governance.
The sentiment of political parties, civil society and media to enhance the credibility of election process by involving judiciary is a good omen.
He stated that unfortunately in past involvement of judiciary in election process had adversely affected the judicial work; therefore, at the time of framing National Judicial Policy, it was considered appropriate to keep aloof the judiciary from the elections process and focus all its energies and time on administration of justice.
He said that during the last few years the Judiciary has struggled for its independence and thanks God we have triumph the confidence of masses as protector of their rights.
He added this meeting has been convened to consider the request of Election Commission of Pakistan and decide with consensus to what extent and in which form the judiciary may be involved in the election process so that its impartiality and independence should not be questioned.
Secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan, Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan briefed the Committee about the steps taken by the Election Commission to conduct the forthcoming general election in a transparent manner.
He shared the efforts made by the Commission to update and rectify the Electoral Rolls in the light of directions issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and to address the concerns of different political parties.
He informed that with the assistance of NADRA the Commission has updated the Electoral Roll and presently 84.365 million voters have been enrolled and the process is still underway.
He also briefed the meeting about the implementation status of directions issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its judgment to ensure conduct of election in a free, fair and just manner.
He informed that to enhance the credibility of election process, the services of the employees of federal, provincial and autonomous bodies have been requisitioned for mix deployment.
He informed that for deweaponization of constituencies and to ensure polling in a free and congenial environment, a complete ban on display of arms, arial firing would be imposed during the elections campaigns and polling.
He assured that in this regard relevant legal provisions of Election Laws, Cr.P.C and Arms Ordinance would be invoked. He informed that a comprehensive security plan for the protection of District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and other polling staff and voters during the elections and till consolidation of results have been devised and would be employed with the help of Police, Armed and Para-military forces.
He informed that the commission is considering possibility of monitoring the polling through installation of Close Circuit TVs (CCTVs) in and around the polling stations, particularly, in the sensitive areas.
The Secretary, Election Commission informed that after approval of Code of Conduct, the same would be published for information of general public.