Stop ‘intrusive’ questions, Pak court tells poll officials

April 06, 2013 02:12 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 10:10 pm IST - Lahore

A Pakistani court has barred election officials from asking irrelevant or intrusive questions while scrutinising nomination papers after days of televised proceedings during which candidates were asked to recite Quranic verses and to reveal intimate details.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of the Lahore High Court issued the order on Friday evening following widespread criticism of the questioning of candidates by Returning Officers, who are mostly judges of lower courts deputed to assist election authorities.

In his order, Mr. Shah directed Returning Officers to “immediately refrain from asking random intrusive and inquisitive questions that have no nexus with information given in the nomination papers or do not arise from the objections raised by the other side”.

During proceedings conducted in front of TV cameras, the Returning Officers had asked candidates to prove their Islamic credentials by reciting Quranic verses or by explaining the method for offering prayers.

In one instance, an official asked a candidate how he “did justice” to his two wives while another official asked a candidate from a religious party to explain the procedure for bathing a body before burial.

Such questioning of candidates has been strongly >criticised by politicians and civil society groups after it was given widespread coverage by the media.

Commentators have described some of the queries posed by Returning Officers as weird and bizarre.

Justice Shah contended that the Returning Officers were tarnishing the image of the judiciary by asking candidates irrelevant questions.

Mr. Shah issued the ruling while hearing a petition seeking implementation of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, which have given rise to much of the questioning.

Article 62 states a person will not be qualified to contest polls unless “he is of good character and...has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings” while Article 63 lays down the grounds on which a person can be disqualified as a member of parliament.

In his order, the judge also directed the Election Commission and all Returning Officers not to allow the electronic media to telecast proceedings from inside courtrooms.

However, he said journalists could report on the proceedings.

Mr. Shah ordered the Registrar of the Lahore High Court to ensure the immediate compliance of the order so that the negative impression generated against the judiciary is addressed.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.