A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the application filed by a citizen Kanwar Idress against insertion of new Article 7B and 7C, Chief Executive's Order No. 7 of 2002, which excludes the name of Ahmedis or Quadianis from the general electoral lists.
It is to be noted that former President General Pervez Musharraf and his military-government had promulgated the Conduct of General Elections (Second Amendment) Order 2002.
Under this order, a non-Muslim or Ahmedi cannot register to vote. Any Ahmedis or Quadianis found to be on the official electoral rolls would be summoned by the Revising Authority. Their appearance before this authority would be mandatory within 15 days of receiving notification. This person shall then be required to sign a declaration agreeing to the finality of the Holy Prophet. If this person refuses to sign this, he or she shall be deemed non-Muslims. The name of this person shall then be removed from the electoral rolls and would be added to a supplementary list of voters in the same electoral area as non-Muslim. In case the voter does not turn in spite of service of notice, an ex-parte order may be passed against him.
During the hearing, the court has asked the counsel for Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Munir Paracha that whether this order 2002 regarding the exclusion of Ahmedis or Quadianis was still applicable.
Upon this, the learned counsel has requested the bench to give some time for taking instruction from the relevant authority of the commission. "We have to be very careful as it is very sensitive matter", the CJ said in his remarks. He also said that they would not say anything without knowing the present status of this order 2002.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed also questioned that whether any Pakistani citizen was not allowed to cast vote on the basis of religion.
The petitioner Kanwar Idress told the bench that he had already met with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) regarding this matter but CEC had conveyed him that the ECP could not do anything in this regard. The applicant said that exclusion of Ahmedis or Quadianis name from general electoral rolls would be discriminatory as s well as the violation of Article 25 of the constitution.
Calling the law as discriminatory the petitioner had stated that all other non-Muslim communities were registered in the joint electoral roll and the law had only distinguished the Ahmedis.
Following his arguments Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed joint electoral system was in vogue in the country and why such law was being implemented.
In response to a question from Justice Saeed the petitioner said he had a meeting with chief election commissioner and discussed this point but the commissioner maintained that the practice could not be stopped as long as the law was in field and it could only be altered through legislation.
The learned counsel said that this was his 21st appearance in this case since 2007 and now this matter had been transferred from SC Karachi registry to Islamabad. He requested the bench to transfer this case in Karachi as it would be difficult for him to come again on again.
Upon this, the chief justice said that now they had taken up his case and would decide very soon. Issuing a fresh notice to Attorney General for Pakistan in this case, the court adjourned the hearing until March 11.