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Pakistan: Petition for Contempt of Court Against Chief Election Commissioner

(Nov. 2, 2007) On October 17, 2007, Wajihuddin Ahmed, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) and a Presidential candidate for election in opposition to President Pervez Musharraf, filed a petition for contempt of court against the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan (CEC) for failing to comply with the October 5, 2007, decision of the SCP directing him not to declare the results of the presidential election. The CEC, Qazi Mohammad Farooq, is also a retired judge of the Surpeme Court. The petition, filed under article 204 of the Constitution, stated that contrary to the SCP's direction, the CEC had publicized the election results when he opened the ballot boxes, counted the votes, and announced the results of the election, thereby reducing the orders of the SCP to a mere ritual.

The petition states that the CEC should not have counted the votes, but was required to keep the ballot boxes sealed to maintain the secrecy of the election results and to await the decision of the SCP on whether Musharraf was eligible to take part in the presidential election. The petitioner also alleged that the CEC's conduct showed bias, in allowing the Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, and the Pakistan Muslim League President, Chaudhry Shujaat, who were the proposer and seconder, respectively, for Musharraf in his election bid, to sit with the CEC in the office space only for the CEC, and also in failing to allow the petitioner adequate time to scrutinize the nomination papers of the opposing candidate.

The petitioner asked that the CEC be summoned before the SCP and punished for contempt of court. (Contempt Plea Filed Against CEC, THE DAWN, Oct. 18, 2007, available at http://www.dawn.com/2007/10/18/top8.htm.)